The Last Love Song

Blackstone. Apr. 2024. 250p. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9798212638012.
Gr 9 Up–Upon graduating high school, Mia receives a gift from her late mother, country star Tori Rose. It’s her mother’s diary, along with seven envelopes that will lead her around their shared Pacific Northwest hometown to find its missing pages. She teams up with her best friend, Britt, who is set to leave town for Nashville, paralleling Tori Rose’s journey there years earlier seeking stardom. As Mia finds each set of pages, the perspective shifts to Tori Rose in the late 1980s, enthralled by Nashville and forming a band. Song lyrics interspersed throughout tie past to present, offering Mia a new understanding of her mother and her town, as well as, she hopes, the identity of her father. Britt and Mia, sometimes more than friends, share a will-they-or-won’t-they love story; Britt wants Mia to go to Nashville with her, but though she loves music, Mia can’t face the expectations that come with having a famous parent or bear to leave her grandmothers, who are still grieving the loss of their daughter. This slow-burn has faster pacing in Mia’s chapters, with the mystery element propelling the plot to a hopeful conclusion. Mia and her mother are white, one of her grandmothers has dark skin, and Britt is Latinx.
VERDICT A sweet coming-of-age debut for fans of books about music, this novel is reminiscent of Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes and a solid choice for readers of Nina LaCour’s Everything Leads to You.

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