Sunday, July 03, 2022

Candidly Cline, by Kathryn Ormsbee

Cline dreams of becoming a country music star, like the women she idolizes:  Emmylou Harries, Dolly Parton, Brandi Carlile, and her namesake Patsy Cline.  However, Mom reminds that music doesn't pay the bills.  Mom should know:  she had to give up her own dreams of playing in music in order to take care of the family.  So when a co-worker of her Mom's tells Cline about a workshop for young singer-songwriters, Mom tells her no.  But Cline knows she has to go. She doesn't have the money, she doesn't have a way to get to Lexington to attend the classes, and she'll have to find a way to sneak out, but somehow she'll figure everything out.

In comparison to the rest of her problems, this is small change.  Her grandmother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and Cline is struggling to understand Gram's unpredictable health and behavior.  Cline also is grappling with her sexuality and why she likes girls more than boys  Also with the experience of being betrayed by her best friend when she confesses as much to her in confidence.

But for every bad surprise, there's a good one as well.  Through good planning, fortuitous moments, and a few karmic moments, Cline discovers that it takes a small kindnesses and a village to fulfill a dream.  And that when it comes to big dreams, there are more people who want you to succeed than to tear you down.  

I was slightly afraid that the book might end up tying off every problem with a cheery bow, but that's not really what happens.  While Cline benefits from some pretty good luck, there's plenty of things that don't work out, but for all those Cline comes to peace with the outcome. She makes plenty of errors in judgment (most egregiously the decision to go behind her mother's back), but she's courageous and dedicated.  Most importantly, the story shows Cline dealing with a wide variety of people of all ages, both sympathetic and not, and learning to navigate difficult social interactions with maturity.

In the end, this is a warm and positive story about working hard, taking responsibility, and owning your outcomes.  Good life lessons.

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