Morelli, Frank. No Sad Songs.
5Q * 3P * M * J * S
Morelli, Frank. No Sad Songs. Fish Out of Water Books, February 2018. 228p. $12.99 Trade pb. 978-0-9899087-4-0.
Gabe LoScuda, high school senior, has known that his grandfather's Alzheimer's is getting worse, but he never could have guessed that his parents would die suddenly in a car crash, leaving him as his grandfather's sole caregiver. When Grandpa takes Gabes car for a joy ride and hits a child, words like promise and responsibility take on entirely new meanings. He could never have predicted the near-catastrophic results of trying to keep a promise to his father, or the consequences of his own infamy.
Beautifully written, this book intersperses a first-person narrative with introspective essays from Gabe's English journal, which tie bits of poetry to memories of his childhood. Dejan Stojanovic's Simplicity leads to reminiscence of his dad's love of baseball. Frost is the link to understanding his grandfather. Stevenson's My Kingdom reveals a time when Gabe succumbed to peer pressure and built his own "crummy kingdom." Gabe is facing serious challenges between his grandfather's quickly progressing disease and his own possible jail time. Morelli's writing is serious as well, but he infuses it with poetic imagery and a sense of humor. Gabe describes "nightmares where I'm trapped inside a Tetris board and all the falling shapes are Grandpa's pills raining down on me" and muses about a "Useless Language Hospital" where his Latin teacher "could perform emergency verb conjugation surgeries." Set in the 1990s, this is a timeless story of coming-of-age while watching loved ones fade into age.--Beth Karpas.