“This is a novel of great empathy, about connections and coming of age, built families and self-acceptance. It contains heartbreak and redemption, and a plucky, irresistible protagonist… [A] propulsive, empathetic novel.” —Shelf Awareness
Little River, New York, 1994: April Sawicki is living in a motorless motorhome that her father won in a poker game. Failing out of school, picking up shifts at a local diner, she’s left fending for herself in a town where she’s never quite felt at home. When she “borrows” her neighbor’s car to perform at an open mic night, she realizes her life could be much bigger than where she came from. After a fight with her dad, April packs her stuff and leaves for good, setting off on a journey to find a life that’s all hers.
Driving without a chosen destination, she stops to rest in Ithaca. Her only plan is to survive, but as she looks for work, she finds a kindred sense of belonging at Cafe Decadence, the local coffee shop. Still, somehow, it doesn’t make sense to her that life could be this easy. The more she falls in love with her friends in Ithaca, the more she can’t shake the feeling that she’ll hurt them the way she’s been hurt. As April moves through the world, meeting people who feel like home, she chronicles her life in the songs she writes and discovers that where she came from doesn’t dictate who she has to be.
This lyrical, luminous tale “is both a profound love letter to creative resilience and a reminder that sometimes even tragedy can be a kind of blessing” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author).
Music and the generosity of strangers provide healing in Larkin's emotionally expansive latest (after Swimming for Sunlight). In 1994, 16-year-old April performs her songs at open mic nights around her small hometown in Upstate New York. Then, after her disapproving father destroys her guitar, she strikes out on her own and lands in Ithaca, where, over the course of a few intense months, she establishes something like a found family. But a betrayal and a fear that she'd be found out for lying about her age prompt April to flee rather than face rejection by those she's come to love. Fast forward three years and April is still on the road and when the opportunity to create a home comes once again, she must choose whether to run away or go all in and finally discover whether art and stable relationships have to be mutually exclusive. Some parts of April's story (such as the career path of her high school sweetheart) come off as contrived, but several of the supporting characters feel authentic, as does the sometimes harrowing depiction of April's life as a young woman traveling and performing solo night after night. This hopeful story will move readers.