I've never read a novel by Caroline B. Cooney before, because for some reason I always thought she would write things I didn't like. However, I loved this book
The Lost Songs, simply put, is about a girl named Lutie who lives deep in the South and who has a unique possession - she is the only person that knows all the words to a plethora of songs that her great-grandmother, an African American, used to sing during her work-time. A music education professor learns of the songs and becomes interested in them. He wants to publish the songs and bring them to the rest of the world. Lutie doesn't like the plan, though - she feels like the songs are hers alone, and that sharing them would ruin them. She doesn't want them to become commercialized or for people to try to interpret them and alter their original purpose.
The novel is so much more though. The other characters in Lutie's life are so interesting and draw you in - I felt like I had a personal relationship with each character. There's her crazy, drug addict mother whom Lutie has never really known, but contacts her to reveal a secret. Then, there are her aunts, Grace and Tamika, who raise her in her mother's absence. And there's Miss Veola, her dead grandmother's best friend and the pastor of their somewhat eccentric church. Lutie also deals with Doria, a new-to-town girl from up north who is experiencing a deep case of culture schock. Then there are Kelvin and Cliff (a.k.a. "Train"), the boys that Lutie grew up with but has grown apart from. In fact, Cliff lives life on the edge, aspiring to follow in the footsteps of his now-imprisoned older brother, DeRade. It's hard to think about how all these characters and perspectives could come together to create one cohesive story, but they do, and they do so beautifully.
I loved everything about this book - it really has something for everyone. I would recommend it mainly to girls, and anyone interested in music since a lot of the plot is driven by Lutie's knowledge of the Lost Songs and by Doria's link to them since she is an organist. There are parts of the plot that would appeal to boys, too though...some violence and action!
On a side note, this is the first book I've ever read entirely on my iPad, and I must say I did NOT like it. The first page of each chapter had a little snippet of what was to come on it, and I think I would have gone back and re-read those if I'd been reading a print book, but I didn't on the iPad because it was too frustrating to flip back and forth.