A song. A harmony. A refrain. It’s amazing how music can stir the soul, touch a heart, and keep us connected to loved ones both while they are living and long after they are gone. So it is in Rita Williams-Garcia’s beautiful new novel, Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, a poignant story of love and loss, steeped in music, that details one boys struggle to cope with the sudden death of his beloved grandfather.
In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, Clayton, a young musician, idolizes his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd. Cool Papa is a true bluesman, but Clayton’s mother doesn’t approve of Cool Papa’s music — or his lifestyle. When Cool Papa suddenly dies, Clayton’s grief is unbearable and is compounded by his mother’s seeming indifference. Thus, he runs away one day, on a mission to find and join Cool Papa’s fellow bluesmen. The result is an emotionally resonant journey, not to be missed, as Clayton learns not just about life, but himself too.
Williams-Garcia has created yet another noteworthy novel that has already been short-listed for the National Book Award. In Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, the author masterfully creates vivid scenes with sensory details so rich they transport the reader right into the pages of the settings she creates. The relationships between her characters are nuanced and real, highlighting the challenges that exist between some family members and the closeness shared between others. The book explores life & death, music, family, and even jealousy with such authenticity, resulting in middle grade literature at its finest. Two enthusiastic trunks up from our team.
Want the book? Get it here! Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, by Rita Williams-Garcia. *This is an affialite link.