Title: A Song for Julia (Thompson Sisters)
Author: Charles Sheehan-Miles
Publisher: Cincinnatus Press
Released: 5th December 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Crank and Julia are two broken people from completely different backgrounds. Julia attends Harvard and her family is exceedingly wealthy, her father in international relations. But she carries a dark secret from when they were in Beijing that could have brought her father's career to a screeching halt when the scandal occurred, and it weighs heavily on the family's mind constantly. After that experience she's determined that she'll never fall for a guy again. Crank left home at sixteen to start a band and get away from his family; now he's still in the band, but it's only mildly successful. His arguments with his father remain frequent, he never speaks to or even sees his mother and when he's not not rehearsing or doing a gig, he's either flipping burgers for a small amount of money or looking after his brother, who has Asperger's Syndrome. The two meet at an anti-war protest and an unlikely relationship begins between them.
This took a little while for me to properly get into. For one thing, the alternating POVs didn't really seem to work for me - and those of you who know me know that I'm usually fine with them. I don't know what it was, if they just switched too quickly or if it was something else, but something about it didn't sit well. Also, it was very repetitive. I got slightly frustrated at hearing the same things over several times, over-emphasising certain aspects of the characters. The same hints of Julia's secret were brought up frequently, and I think the revealing of the secret could have been drawn out a little more. And as for Julia and Crank, I felt they were too quick to be so attracted with each other. I'm very hesitant to use the phrase 'insta-love' because I don't think it's necessarily as deep as that: as far as Crank's concerned, she's just another girl, someone else he can get into bed. In fact, scratch the insta-love. But I do think that Julia was very incautious to begin with for someone who's had such a traumatising experience. Having said that, she's still painfully broken and isn't willing to make the same mistake as before. The thing with A Song for Julia is that it starts out pretty flawed, but then when you get into it, that's when the magic starts.
What Julia went through in Beijing really is awful. Traumatising. I felt for her completely and utterly. I could not believe what she had been put through and then, making an already agonising situation unbearable, her family chose to believe the rumours and the press rather than actually ask Julia herself what happened. Her mother specifically. They of all people should have known how truth gets twisted in the media, and yet no-one bothered to ask her for her account of events. Her father was pushing her down a certain study path and career, and her mother was one of the coldest you will ever meet. She had no true affection for her daughters, and she couldn't even address them by their own names, instead barking orders at whichever 'young lady' she was unhappy with. Apart from bitterness, this woman has almost no emotion to her. I loved it when Julia started making a stand, putting forward her own thoughts and asserting her own control. Julia grows significantly throughout the novel, not only by making her own future, but also learning to take a chance and let go of her past.
Crank is not a bad boy. He is who he is. He doesn't put up a pretence, he doesn't try to be tough. He lives for his brother, his music and the girls. But with Julia he views her as more than just someone to have fun with for one night. I actually quite enjoyed seeing the relationship kind of turned around: usually we think of the guys as having commitment issues from what we see in books, movies, real life. But this time it was the girl, because of her experience. The development in their relationship and the way they each revealed more of themselves to the other was beautiful. I also adored the fact that Crank was close to his brother and tried to look out for him. The author expertly managed to write about Sean with his Asperger's Syndrome, and I grew very close to him. It was sweet to see him start to open up a little more, both within his family and with Julia. The friendship between Sean and Julia is incredibly endearing, and it's one that makes you appreciate Julia even more. Sheehan-Miles has been very successful in creating the relationships within this book.
This is a truly beautiful read. It's packed with different emotions, different relationships, ideas of love, acceptance, growth. I loved Crank, Julia and Sean, and even Crank's father, not to mention Crank's interaction with Julia's sisters and the way his family took her in like she was their own. I adored seeing Julia step in for her sisters, grow closer to them, and also the concept of how she and Crank met. It's quite an interesting mix of war or foreign affairs, and music, and the manner in which our two protagonists meet is definitely unusual. If you like character-driven and emotional books, I can definitely recommend this, and I can't wait to read more of this author's work.