A Song Called Home

A Song Called Home cover
A Song Called Home by Sara Zarr

By Sara Zarr
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2022
368 pages

Ages 9-12

Lou and older sister Casey’s mom is about to marry Steve, an unwelcome change that means they’ll be moving from San Francisco to the suburbs, enrolling in new schools, and living far from friends. Mom met Steve at church, and he seems okay. But Lou and Casey (white) worry that—like their mostly absent dad, who struggles with alcoholism—Steve may reveal himself to be unreliable or even cruel. To cope, Lou internalizes her feelings and steals small items from friends and others; Casey has angry outbursts and abandons Lou after school to hang out with old friends. The sisters escape by spending time with the cool couple next door, Beth and Marcus: Casey confides in Beth, while Lou, who mysteriously received a guitar for her eleventh birthday, gets music lessons from Marcus. Assuming the guitar must be from her father, Lou fantasizes about bringing him back to their family with a stellar performance in the school talent show. Acceptance and healing begin to come with the passage of time, the help of a new friend whose mother is a recovered alcoholic, and Steve’s consistent, patient efforts to improve his relationships with his new stepdaughters. ©2022 Cooperative Children’s Book Center