A book about love, loss, and the power of music, perfect for fans of Nick Hornby and Fangirl.
Taliah Sahar Abdallat lives and breathes music. Songs have always helped Tal ease the pain of never having known her father. Her mother, born in Jordan and very secretive about her past, won’t say a word about who her dad really was. But when Tal finds a shoebox full of old letters from Julian Oliver—yes, the indie rock star Julian Oliver—she begins to piece the story together.
She writes to Julian, but after three years of radio silence, she’s given up hope. Then one day, completely out of the blue, Julian shows up at her doorstep, and Tal doesn’t know whether to be furious or to throw herself into his arms. Before she can decide, he asks her to go on a trip with him to meet her long-estranged family and to say good-bye to his father, her grandfather, who is dying.
Getting to know your father after sixteen years of estrangement doesn’t happen in one car ride. But as Tal spends more time with Julian and his family, she begins to untangle her parents’ secret past, and discovers a part of herself she never recognized before.
By the acclaimed author of My Heart and Other Black Holes, this is an intergenerational story of family and legacy and the way love informs both of those things. It’s about secrets and the debt of silence. It’s about the power of songs. And most of all, it’s about learning how to say hello. And good-bye.
Sixteen-year-old Taliah has never met her father. Her mother claims that he is someone from her homeland in Jordan, but after gathering some clues, Taliah believes he is rock star Julian Oliver, who grew up in the same Indiana town where her mother attended college. Taliah's suspicions are confirmed when Julian unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep with a request that she accompany him to meet her dying paternal grandfather. On a whim (and since her mother is conveniently in Paris), Taliah decides to go. In Oak Falls, Ind., she comes to know her father's mother, her cousins, and an interesting boy who lives next door, while gaining insight into her parents' relationship and learning something about her own potential as a musician and as a friend. Warga (My Heart and Other Black Holes) skillfully combines three tales: one of introverted Taliah coming out of her shell, one of Taliah's mother as a young immigrant, and one of Julian's rising career and unrequited love. Intriguing, romantic, and honest, the book celebrates the new beginnings that can emerge from tragic endings. Ages 14 up.