Somebody Everybody Listens To

Somebody Everybody Listens To Title: Somebody Everybody Listens To
Author: Suzanne Supplee
Publisher: Speak, imprint of Penguin Group USA
Original publication year: 2010

This is paperback edition.

Date read: May 11th – May 13th 2013

Somebody Everybody Listens To is yet another book I just bought on a whim. Since I am totally illiterate when it comes to country music, I thought I’d just give it away to a music-loving friend. She’s not a country fan, either, but she loves music, so I thought she could relate.

It turns out, I could relate, too.

Retta Lee Jones is from a small town (Starling, Tennessee) and she has this super voice that goes high and clear. People love Retta’s voice, and most of them love her as person, too. The book opens with the high school graduation scene in which Retta sings the national anthem. All throughout high school, she wanted to get away and become big – not because of money but because she wants to be heard. Post-graduation, Retta finally packs her bag and (with much encouragement from her best friend, Brenda) says goodbye to her hard-working dad and stay-at-home mom. She borrows her grandma’s car and heads to Nashville, the place for county musicians.

Just like in normal life, Retta has ups -meeting nice people who help her on the way- and downs -getting mugged and living in the car- but her spirit is never down. Sure, she’s not always too-perky-with-too-bright-smiles, either, but she pulls herself together and goes forward – towards her dream.

Suzanne Supplee has managed to put many ideas into one book. Somebody Everybody Listens To isn’t just a teenage girl’s journey to reaching her dream. This girl also has to deal with her ever-sniping parents (I can totally understand Retta’s situation on this one – both parents are not bad persons, they just don’t appreciate each other and that leads to fighting and disagreements.), earning money to pave her way through (this book has given me a new perspective for what it means when money is tight) and worrying that she’s not a good enough friend for Brenda. All the while the tone carries both a scent of sunshine and a sense of loss and sadness, because that’s what makes up life. The good and the bad. The happy and the sad.
Retta is such a sweet and well-meaning girl, maybe a little bit naïve, but she has a good read on people and fine instinct. She’s honest and not too proud to admit that she’s scared shitless before a performance. Also, the people she meets in Nashville -from Ricky Dean (mechanic) to Emerson (college student) to Riley (son of a motel-manager)- help her and lets her mature all in different ways. And guess what? There is no love-interest angst and issue.

During the weeks of stay in Nashville, Retta heads to Starling twice but I do think she’ll head back to Nashville again. The book closes open-ended, with enough clues to guess what could happen next but not really typing it down.

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