Songbird by Angela Fristoe
Publisher:  Little Prince Publishing
Published  June 30th 2011
Paperback, 208 pages
Challenges:  100 Books in 2011, 2011 Debut Author 

There are defining moments in life when everything changes. For Dani Mays, it was the day she witnessed her father kill her brother. Now seventeen years-old, she still hasn’t put it behind her.

After Jace’s death, she bounced between her alcoholic mother and foster homes, until she found a permanent place. And a reason to stay: Reece Tyler. He’s her best friend, yet Dani wants more from Reece.

Faced with possibly losing Reece, Dani struggles to define his place in her life and escape the memories of her brother’s death and the influence it has over her choices. Even as she weaves the pieces of her heart back together, the past becomes more than a memory when a former foster brother reappears and Dani begins receiving threatening phone calls.

Songbird is a wonderful refreshing debut novel, showing promise for a new author and audience.  While this novel does have a very serious undertone and back story of abuse, drinking, and such affects, Angela Fristoe has brilliantly created 2 worlds – Dani’s present, in which she can breathe and live, and her past, in which she is stifled and constrained.  It is only when Dani grows into her own, do her 2 worlds collide, forcing her to face and reconcile with one or both.  Even though her past obviously and understandably affects her present in every aspect of her life, Dani can be seen as almost 2 characters.  As with most novels that tackle such topics as abuse, drinking and even murder, readers are given insights into the character’s past through flashbacks.  Usually, I find these to be annoying, uninformative, and ill timed.  However Angela Fristoe has cleaverly and perfectly created and placed every single flashback, coinciding with the many aspects of Dani’s fears and troubles.   

While there is a love interest (or 2….) in this novel, it is not overdone.  Even more so, you get to see not only Dani grow as a character both inside and outside this ‘love’ plot, but also her love interest Reese.  Not only was love tested but friendships were tested as well, of which Angela Fristoe has beautifully intertwined together (love and friendship) creating an entire new aspect of this novel. 

While this debut novel is wonderfully written and the characters are amazingly developed the title is a little bit deceiving, especially if you are not willing to read this novel.  While Dani’s talent in singing is touched upon it is not explored as much as I would have loved.  Of course, the title ‘Songbird’ can be construed in many ways beyond that actual action of singing – Dani learns how to fly away from her haunting past into her present.  

Angela Firstoe’s debut novel is a much for all to read!  Her characters, plot and development are beautifully created and explored.  I for one will be watching out for her next novel!! 

My Rating:

** Disclosure: I received this book from The {Teen} Book Scene in exchange for an honest review.

Angela is a debut novelist with Little Prince Publishing and is gearing up for the release of her first YA Romance, Songbird. She was the winner, and double finalist, in the Romance category of The Strongest Start Contest 2010 hosted by The Next Big Writer. When not writing, she teaches and spends time with her family.