Beth has always been “The Beast”—that’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is, until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist, and receives the makeover that will change her life forever.
THE LOVE AFFAIR
When Beth’s choir travels to Switzerland, she meets Derek: pale, brooding, totally dreamy. Derek’s untethered passion—for music, and for Beth—leaves her breathless. Because in Derek’s eyes? She’s not The Beast, she’s The Beauty.
THE IMPOSSIBLE CHOICE
When Beth comes home, Scott, her best friend in the world, makes a confession that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous, intense new feelings she has for Derek?
The closer Beth gets to Derek, the further away he seems. Then Beth discovers that Derek’s been hiding a dark secret from her …one that could shatter everything. (From Goodreads)
Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison is an emotional rollercoaster that quite literally ended (at least for me) with a lump in my throat and the threat of tears. For the most part, I was completely taken over by the story and the characters. Morrison immediately draws you into Beth’s ugly life starting with her father’s rejection at birth and the absolutely, horrible pranks played on her at school. All because her face is scared, she wears thick glasses and has uncontrollable fizzy hair. Beth is unfortunately defined, like so many teenagers are by her looks, and it is impossible not be empathetic. However, Beth does have beautiful moments: when she sings. Morrison uses Beth’s talent first metaphorically to help her escape the ugliness of her life and then literally to physically transform her. This literal transformation occurs after Beth receives the lead solo and her choir is chosen to compete in Switzerland against other choirs. One of the choir’s sponsors gives Beth a makeover taking her from the ugly duckling to a swan in a very short period of time. While I did not have a difficult time accepting this transformation (I tend to be able to suspend disbelief quite easily), I do have a problem about the message that young adults could construe from Beth’s makeover. After all, we aren’t all beautiful people, and true talent should be judged on its own merit not by the physical wrappings it comes in.
Despite this message Sing Me to Sleep is still a book I really enjoyed. The title was very meaningful and I thought Morrison’s writing was engaging. I especially liked how Beth’s mind was always making up lyrics to explain her feelings and continually tries to find a hopeful chorus to add to her song:
Why do they surprise me?
Can everyone see
That I’m still the same girl?
Now who will she be?
Can she be beautiful?
Will she be blinded too?
Why am I anxious
To leave my old shell behind?
Can it be possible
Will all the people love me?
I also liked Beth’s best friend Scott, who always saw Beth as the beautiful person she was inside. I kept wishing that Beth would see past their long time friendship and realize what a great boy friend Scott would make. However, the story definitely would have been much different without Derek, who falls in love with Beth’s voice before he even meets her. It was exciting to see their romance unfold while they were in Switzerland, but once they return it got tedious. I really wanted Derek to stop being mysterious and I hated how Beth moped and brooded over him. I was elated however, that she didn’t succumb to Derek’s demands to quite her choir and join his. I would have been extremely disappointed in Beth as a character and instead found myself overlooking some of the other flaws she developed after falling in love.
I have to admit that I was more than a little overwhelmed with the emotional intensity at the end. Morrison’s pacing was perfect and it left me drained. Overall, I really did like this book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a story that can quite literally move you to tears.