After living in twelve places in eight years, Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Another new home, another new school...Calle knows better than to put down roots. Her song journal keeps her moving to her own soundtrack, bouncing through a world best kept at a distance.
Yet before she knows it, friends creep in-as does an unlikely boy with a secret. Calle is torn over what may be her first chance at love. With all that she's hiding and all that she wants, can she find something lasting beyond music? And will she ever discover why she and her mother have been running in the first place?
Music is a fluid and changing part of everyone’s life. Songs, are a time machine whisking you away to a memory long gone allowing you to relive the beauty or the pain, laughter or tears. In Songs for a Teenage Nomad, Calle knows the power of songs; she keeps the memories of them in her song journal the only constant in her life besides her mother. It is through this journal that we get a glimpse of the difficult life Calle has had with her mother. Their constant moves from place to place and guy to guy. Being the new kid all the time, Calle has learned not to put down roots or expect to be anything other than a loner.
Kim Culbertson has a way with words and we see this through Calle’s voice, which despite the life she has lived is strong and sure. This is a girl who has learned to never totally unpack her belongings or get too attached to the men in her mother’s lives because the places they move to and the guys never last too long. But when they move to Andreas Bay, and Calle suddenly finds herself making friends, she allows herself to hope that maybe things will change.
There is no doubt that anyone reading this book will have a hard time understanding Calle’s mother. I felt horrified at what she has put her daughter through. I was also very upset when Calle begins to question her mother about her father and her mother refused to answer her questions. Calle was old enough to learn the truth especially when it comes to light that the moves had more to do with Calle than her mother.
One thing I did had a problem with in this book was Calle’s relationship with Sam and Eli. While Sam is the boy Calle is truly interested in, I felt that her desperate need was not in keeping with Calle’s strong personality. Sam’s on again off again attention made me what to shake Calle and tell her to get over him, especially when Eli, who was a sweetheart, was right there and wanted to hook up. But the heart wants what it wants, and Calle’s heart wanted Sam. Culbertson does eventually show us the reason behind Sam’s behavior, which helped me to accept Sam’s treatment of Calle, but by that time (judgmental gal that I am) I had already dismissed Sam as the right guy for Calle.
The story’s wrap up was a bit too pat for me, but I was still satisfied that Calle, her mother, and Sam all grew in a substantial way. The book left on a note of hope that Calle’s life would change for the better and that the songs that so often brought memories of sadness and change would begin to sing of new and better possibilities.