Review of A Song for the Road by Kathleen Basi
Basi manages an incredible feat: the book involves messy feelings and grief, yet it isn't maudlin or sappy despite the tragedy and yearning at the book's heart.
Miriam lost her husband and teenage twins a year ago and, unsurprisingly, since then she hasn't been able to face any semblance of moving forward with her life. In fact, she's in danger of imploding her career as her beloved church's music director and alienating her friends, and she isn't sure how to cope.
When Miriam stumbles across her daughter's elaborate road trip plan, which Talia created for her then-soon-to-be-empty-nester parents, Miriam feels compelled to take the trip. She brings along her family members' musical instruments, envisioning a sort of musical pilgrimage (this is not at all cheesy and is in fact quite lovely), and she meets unexpected characters along the way, encounters dangerous weather, and begins to come alive again--despite her reservations and guilty feelings about breaking from her dedicated mourning.
Meanwhile Miriam is shouldering the weight of a decades-long secret she had only ever shared with her deceased husband, and issues surrounding the secret threaten to crack her formerly strong resolve to remain silent about the situation.
Basi's descriptions of classical and religious music and of writing music drew me in. She also managed what felt like an incredible feat: the book involves messy feelings and grief, yet the book is not maudlin or sappy despite the tragedy and yearning at its heart. The tone made me feel confident that things would work out to a satisfying resolution, and Basi delivered, yet events leading up to the end aren't too easy and never felt pat or obvious. The very end felt a little abrupt to me, but by that time I had already become satisfied with the lead-up and the shifts in Miriam's situation, so it didn't bother me.
I admit that based upon the premise, I feared that painfully sentimental tones might creep into the book, but in cases like this I love realizing that I'm incorrect in my Bossy prejudgment. Basi treats the reader with respect and doesn't insert melodrama into an already complex and fraught setup.
I received a prepublication digital edition of this book, published May 11, 2021, courtesy of Alcove Press and NetGalley.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
My Instagram friend @angelsmomreads recommended this book to me when I was talking about my Greedy Reading List Six Rocking Stories about Bands and Music, and I'm so glad she did!