Modern day Laina here!! So, this was a review I wrote back in... September, I do believe, when I was sick with two different kinds of fever and running a fever on and off, along with being very loopy on cold meds. So please be kind if it's a bit funky :P Enjoy this review from past Laina!
Three Songs for Courage by Maxine Trottier
Published: August 12th, 2008 (first published 2006) by Tundra Books
Genre: Historical fiction, I think. It's set in the 50s, so... Although maybe contemporary... my definitions here are a little hazy.
Page count: 324 in my paperback copy
Part of a series? Nope, it's a standalone.
Summary (from the back of the book): Summer, 1956. Life is cool in lakeside Erie View. The town's veterans of the two great wars struggle to shelve their memories and pick up where they left off, women with newfound independence work to rekindle their marriages, and teenagers with too much freedom live the secret lives of youth.
For sixteen-year-old Gordon Westley, this is the summer of first love, fast cars, the best buddies on earth, and heartrending tragedy; the summer he will explore the sweetest side of human nature and come to fear the darkest; the summer he must learn his third song for courage.
Review: I really, really enjoyed this one. The setting of 1956 Ontario was just plain charming. I love reading Canadian books in general, and this was a particularly good one. Not to mention the cars from that time period make me drool... Gordon drives a 1950 Pontiac. Love it!
Plot: Three Songs for Courage is about the summer before Gordon Westley's last year of school, the summer of his first girlfriend, the first loss of a loved one, the summer he begins to become an adult. (How's that for writing about plot? Not bad, huh?)
Characters: Gordon is sixteen-years-old and wants to be James Dean. He lives in a small town near Lake Erie with his parents, his grandfather, and his little brother Stan. And now I sound like I'm writing a book report. NyQuil'll do that to you.
Anyways, I loved his voice. I have a fondness for books told from a guy's perspective and the combination of that and the 50s stuff, it's just a really good narration.
The supporting characters were all three-dimensional and interesting as well. His little brother Stan was a total sweetheart that you can't help loving. Random thing that amused me, one of the characters was named Mary Davidson. One of my favourite authors is MaryJanice Davidson. Isn't that cool?
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: This isn't major, but there were a couple times where the POV transitions weren't as smooth as they could be. It's written in third person, though, so it's not really a big deal. It didn't detract from the reading, even, it's just something I noticed because I'm nuts.
PG-13 stuff: Well, this is a book about sixteen-year-old boys in the fifties. So there's cursing, drinking, smoking, talk about sex. Nothing really obscene or graphic, but it is for a more mature reader.
Cover comments: I'm not sure about this one. The boy's kinda cute. I just don't think he looks like Gordon. So I'm undecided. What do you guys think?
Conclusion: I really liked this one. The writing was smooth and consistent throughout the book and the setting was really neat, especially for me as I grew up in Ontario. I think a lot of guys would enjoy it, too, and relate to it. Some parts that they'd really relate to are highly amusing to girls like me. 'Cause you know, boys are weird. This one gets three and a half roses.
Peace and cookies,