Somebody Everybody Listens To is on YALSA’s
2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Click
Artichoke’s Heart is the Golden Sower
Honor Book for 2011! Click
How to start your own book club. Click
here for a link to Penguin for an Artichoke's Heart discussion guide.
Check out this new Duke
copy of Artichoke’s Heart and When Irish Guys Are
Smiling today! Currently, I’m the featured author
for the Students Across the Seven Seas series. Visit the website and
check it out! www.penguin.com/sass
Baby! The German translation rights for Artichoke’s Heart
were recently sold to Egmont Franz Schneider and Verlag Publishers.
Click on the links provided, or visit your local book seller.
Suzanne Supplee is available for school and library
visits. Please visit the link provided for further details.
Somebody Everybody Listens To Reviews
Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW!
Propelled by her best friend's belief in her musical talent,
recent high school grad Retta Lee Jones leaves self-doubt,
clingy parents, and her smalltown life behind and heads to
Nashville, determined to make her name in country music. Hard
knocks (she damages the car she borrowed from her great-aunt
right away) and kind strangers (the tow-truck driver becomes
an ally) introduce her to her new home, and neither are in
short supply. Understanding that genuine talent alone won't
open doors for her, Retta lives out of her car, bathes in
public sinks, and studies the industry, searching for a way
to break in. These concrete challenges prove less daunting
than the guilt-inducing pull of home, as her parents' unhappy
marriage dissolves without her. Biographical notes about country
stars like Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and Carrie Underwood
introduce each chapter and highlight each star's "big
break," providing inspiration for both Retta and readers.
While a mustread for country music lovers, Supplee's (Artichoke's
Heart) latest will appeal to a wide audience, especially those
who long to pursue a dream against the odds.
After graduating from high school in a small Tennessee town,
Retta dreams of making it to Nashville and becoming a country
music star. But even with her beautiful voice, how can she
get there? And who will listen? How can she leave her parents,
who barely speak to each other? Retta does make it to Nashville,
though, and she sleeps in her car; works a day job; and finds
kindness, friendship, and good luck, as well as violence and
cruelty. Country music fans will grab this for the details
of the steel guitars, banjos, and fiddles and the legendary
landmarks; at the start of each chapter, there is a page-long
bio of a famous star, from Dolly Parton to Johnny Cash, that
discusses the musicians’ hardscrabble lives and success.
Retta’s personal story is filled with classic young-adult
conflicts. Should she go back and help Daddy after Mama leaves?
The beautiful song she writes about the push and pull of home
has a message every teen can relate to: “Just me in
the middle, wondering who I should love.“ — Hazel
"Dolly or Loretta or Tammy or Emmylou . . . my voice
is just like Play-Doh: it can take one any shape I want,"
says recent high-school graduate Retta Lee Jones. Now the
country-singer hopeful is ready to leave behind her best friend,
a potential boyfriend and her dysfunctional parents to find
her own voice in Nashville. She thinks she is prepared for
the hard road ahead, until she's faced with hunger, living
in her car and a mugging. Constantly doubtful, Retta draws
inspiration from previous country stars before making her
way to open-mic night at the Mockingbird (which is based on
Nashville's legendary Bluebird Cafe) and claims the attention
of a local critic. Her hardships and lucky breaks may seem
far-fetched until they're compared with the real-life bios
that open and frame each chapter. From Retta's cravings for
Sundrop soda to the twangy speech of the auto mechanic who
rescues her from homelessness, this chick-lit story with a
Southern flair features a host of characters from all walks
of life. It begs for a playlist.
Retta Lee Jones is an aspiring country singer from Starling,
a small Tennessee town. Everyone in Starling knows Retta is
talented, but a beautiful voice cannot fix her parents’
marriage or pay the bills. All she clings to is a dream to
make it in Nashville.
Following her high school graduation, and despite her mother’s
objections, Retta scrapes together her limited savings to
spend the summer working in Music City. Some unfortunate circumstances
(a parking ticket, a fender-bender, a mugging) force her to
sleep in her car, but they also put her in the path of kind-hearted
people. She meets a mechanic who offers her a job answering
phones in his auto shop to pay for the repairs, and a bookstore
clerk befriends her and lends her books about the country
music business. When Retta gets a poor-paying job singing
at a shabby hotel, the hotel manager’s young son lets
her sleep in a vacant room for free. The hotel bartender,
a fellow musician, offers her valuable advice: Quit imitating
country legends and sing your own music. Before long, her
luck changes when she catches the attention of a well-known
local columnist. But the path to fame is often paved with
potholes, and Retta must decide if becoming a Nashville star
is even possible.
As in her previous book, Artichoke’s Heart,
Suzanne Supplee peppers Somebody Everybody Listens
To with a lush Southern setting, endearing characters
and honest first-person narration. Retta is a hard-working
soul who just needs a lucky break, and readers will root for
her to rise above her humble circumstances. In addition, Supplee
precedes each chapter with a brief biography of a country
legend, such as Patsy Cline, Shania Twain and Dolly Parton.
These entries highlight the difficult road to stardom and
complement Retta’s own struggles and successes. After
reading that Dolly Parton was one of 12 children or that Shania’s
real name is Eileen Edwards, teen readers might be motivated
to do their own research and learn more. And although the
country bios add a fun touch to the novel, teens do not need
to be fans of country music to be fans of Suzanne Supplee.
—Kimberly Garnick Giarratano
BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S
Retta has a big voice and big dreams: as soon as she
graduates high school, she's leaving her small town of Starling,
Tennessee, for Nashville to pursue her goal of being a singer.
Encouraged by her best friend and a boy she's crushing on,
she borrows her great-aunt's car, and she's off. Things don't
go smoothly, but she manages, through the kindness of a tow-truck
driver working out his repentance for a less-than-admirable
past, to find a steady job and a place to stay while she sings
at an all-but-abandoned motel lounge. There, she meets a crotchety
bartender with just the right advice, and she perseveres despite
setbacks that ultimately deepen her spirit and resolve. Retta
is a thoroughly credible, thoroughly likable character—loyal,
hardworking, and utterly ordinary, except for her exceptional
talent. She's done her homework on the bios of her favorite
country singers, which are included as interstitial factoids
between chapters, and which make her own path seem reasonable
and realistic. Her reflection on her parents' relationship,
which falls apart when she leaves, proceeds along a thoughtful
track from a relatively immature blame game to a more complex
understanding of the ways in which both she and her father
have not attended to what her mother cared about, an insight
that is subtly related to the reasons behind her determination
to pursue her own dreams. Her narrative voice is as solid
as her singing voice is portrayed to be, making her story
compulsively readable and ultimately inspiring.
Somebody Everybody Listens To is
a Politics and Prose 2010 “Summer Favorite” in
the PG-15 category.