Louisiana’s Song

Written by Kerry Madden
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In the spring of 1963, 12-year-old Livy Two and her nine siblings eagerly await their father’s return to the home they share in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains. But the Tom Weems who comes home from the hospital, where he has been recovering from a head injury received in a car accident, is not the man he used to be. He doesn’t know that JFK is President, and although he hears music in his head, he can’t remember that he himself is a musician—a gift he has passed down to Livy Two.

With Tom prone to wandering off, money getting tight, and Grandma Horace talking about moving the family off their beloved mountain to a nearby factory town, the Weems family is in need of all the help it can get. Livy tries to do her part, persuading her artistic but shy sister Louise (the “Louisiana” of the title) to draw portraits in nearby Waynesboro and barraging a Nashville music company with her songs.

The second book in a series of three, Louisiana’s Song is narrated by Livy, an endearing, indomitable heroine, whose narrative voice is conversational and folksy without ever sounding contrived or artificial. The novel teems with wonderful, vivid characters, from the Weems family members to the bookmobile lady to Mathew the Mennonite. Even the family dog, Uncle Hazard, has a personality all of his own. Don’t let the somewhat hackneyed title scare you off—Louisiana’s Song is an original. Lively, funny, and moving, it’s a novel that adults as well as young readers should enjoy.