Candidly Cline

by Kathryn Ormsbee (Author)

Candidly Cline
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

A must-read for fans of Julie Murphy and Ashley Herring Blake, this queer coming-of-age story from critically acclaimed author Kathryn Ormsbee sings with heart, warmth, and hope.

Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram's favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians' workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom.

But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies she feels surrounded by so many other talented kids--especially Sylvie, who gives Cline the type of butterflies she's only ever heard about in love songs.

As she learns to make music of her own, Cline begins to realize how much of herself she's been holding back. But now, there's a new song taking shape in her heart--if only she can find her voice and sing it.

"Empowering, affirming, and sweet as all get-out." --Lisa Jenn Bigelow, author of Drum Roll, Please

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Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

When 13-year-old Cline Alden, a white aspiring singer named after Patsy Cline and obsessed with women country vocalists, learns about a singer-songwriter workshop only 40 minutes away from her small Kentucky town, she's determined to attend, despite the prohibitive $300 fee, her single diner-waitress mother's firm no, and worry over her grandmother's advancing Alzheimer's. But landing a childcare job at a local church and securing a ride from her mother's coworker, Cline secretly begins to attend the weekly workshop, where she's paired up with Sylvie Sharpe, a 13-year-old rock fan of Mexican descent. As the two collaborate on an original song, their close, supportive friendship leads to Cline's eventual first crush and helps her find the words to tell others in her life who she is and step into her full, unapologetic self as a musician and a queer person. Ormsbee (The Sullivan Sisters) renders Cline's coming out to friends and family with honesty and care, balancing some characters' hurtful reactions, such as that of Cline's religious best friend, with others' affirming and reassuring responses, including those of family members, friends, and an acquaintance within the church. Cline's growing understanding of her mother's choices to eschew music to provide for Cline and her grandmother add another layer of moving realism to this warm and hopeful story. Ages 8-12. Agent: Beth Phelan, Gallt and Zacker Literary. (Nov.)

Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 5 Up--Middle schooler Cline Alden's life revolves around music, specifically country. Named after Patsy Cline, she uses playlists as pep talks, watches an old music variety show with her Gram every Monday evening, and teaches herself to play guitar with YouTube videos. Cline's mother works at a café, and when her coworker Delia tells Cline about a young singer-songwriters workshop in Lexington, a few towns over from their small Kentucky town of Paris, she knows she has to apply. Her mother isn't the biggest supporter of her musical dreams, so Cline has to go behind her back to raise the money, and get to and from classes. Once accepted to the program, Cline has a negative interaction with another workshop member, Sylvie, who is later assigned as her partner. Through Sylvie, Cline learns that first impressions aren't always what they seem and sometimes people build walls to protect themselves, and her feelings for Sylvie shift. Ormsbee's writing feels lyrical and full of country twang. Cline is an authentically relatable tween protagonist who, like her friends, shows only pieces of herself depending on who she's with. As the story unfolds, she shows readers what it takes to live authentically and be true to yourself. This coming-of-age story tackles a myriad of topics in an approachable manner. Cline is cued as white. VERDICT First purchase. A sweet tale of coming into one's own and an affirming queer love story, too.--Alicia Kalan, The Northwest Sch., Seattle

Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"Like a perfect country song, CANDIDLY CLINE sings a sweet and empowering tune of hope, friendship, and the beauty that comes from chasing seemingly impossible dreams. Cline Alden is my hero."—Ashley Herring Blake, Stonewall Honor author of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
November 20, 2021

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