PRAISE FOR “NO SAD SONGS”
“A must for any YA collection.” — School Library Journal
“Full of heart and humor . . . will make young readers take stock of their own parents’ responsibilities, and what it means to make sacrifices for the ones you love.” — Booklist
“An emotional story, filled with lots of laughter and great sadness . . . smartly written, with beautiful characters and a compelling plot.” — Foreword Reviews
“No Sad Songs is lovely and funny and heart-aching and true. I didn’t want it to end. But the big-hearted story and characters—especially the very real, unforgettable Gabe—will stay with me for a long, long time.”
— Jennifer Niven, NY Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places
“No Sad Songs explores the complexities of family, love, and loss, as we follow one young man on a powerful, heartwrenching journey of self-discovery—one that is perfectly balanced with both humor and hope.”
“In No Sad Songs, Frank Morelli has written a beautiful, poignant book about the near-impossible burdens that can be foisted upon us by our unpredictable lives. Gabe LoScuda trudges through the mud in the front lines of his own personal war, and he does it with so much heart you can’t help but root for him. Reading Gabe’s story, we learn to appreciate, as he does, the people in our lives who can be patient with us as we struggle toward our own awakening—the friends and family who can tell us we’re being idiots while still continuing to love us, every muddy step of the way.
— Jack Cheng, author, See You in the Cosmos
“Young meets old in this heartfelt, compelling debut.”
“In No Sad Songs, Morelli deftly balances genuinely hilarious moments with gut-punchingly moving ones. A big-hearted, seriously funny read.”
“No Sad Songs is truly a work of heart! This emotional journey of tough choices is wrapped in the messy but beautiful truth of family obligation and honor. Readers will be rooting for Gabe all the way through.”
“No Sad Songs manages to be at once a funny, heartbreaking, and life-affirming coming of age story about the family we love and hate, self-discovery, and the promises we make and which we choose to keep.”
“Frank Morelli’s No Sad Songs burns bright. With lacerating prose and emotional honesty, Morelli vividly captures the intensity and freedom of young adulthood and the crushing responsibilities of being an adult. The book veers raucously and with wild, teenage abandon from fart jokes to Thoreau and, in between, makes room for me to feel deeply for Gabe LoScuda and to break my heart.”
— Bryan Hurt, author, Everyone Wants to be Ambassador to France
“To compare Morelli to John Green would be cliché—and there is nothing cliché about No Sad Songs. Relatable on so many levels and to so many ages beyond its YA target, it is almost impossible not to find a character that doesn’t remind you of someone you know—and are certainly likely to find echoes of yourself throughout. Even though every family is different, No Sad Songs is a reminder of how much they all have in common in varying shades and degrees. No Sad Songs is filled with one amazingly powerful scene after another, with a perfect blend of humor and pathos that will keep you hooked throughout. The YA world is about to have a new king. Thankfully, there is always room for talent such as this.”
“When tragedy strikes, Gabe LoScuda’s world is quickly turned upside down. Thanks to Frank Morelli’s tremendous heart and wit, we laugh through tears as Gabe takes on grief and overwhelming responsibility like a champ.”
— Patrick Flores-Scott, author, Jumped In
“With plenty of humor and heart, No Sad Songs will have you rooting for its endearing, flawed characters until the very end.”
— Kristin Bartley Lenz, author, The Art of Holding On and Letting Go
“An absolutely fantastic read from beginning to end, Frank Morelli’s debut novel No Sad Songs is at turns hilarious, spirited, and a little bit heartbreaking. What a ride. I’m so glad I took it.”
Review by Ann Y.K. Choi, Author, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety (a 2016 Toronto Book Awards finalist).
Frank Morelli’s impressive debut novel, No Sad Songs, was inspired by his grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s and the impact that disease could have on a family. Gabe LoScuda, Morelli’s 18-year old protagonist, finds his life turned upside down when both his parents are killed in a car accident, leaving him alone with his grandfather. Things turn from bad to worse when his grandfather is involved in a hit-and-run accident.
But this is far from a grim YA novel. Morelli uses music, poems, and humor to immerse us in 1990s Philadelphia, “where pizza parlors dot the horizon like freaking tumbleweeds in an old Western”. At a glance, Gabe appears emotionally distant, but the reality is he doesn’t have time to mourn his parents or his new life circumstances. His grandfather suffers from Pick’s disease that like Alzheimer’s, has severely compromised his memory and behavior. Gabe is determined to protect him at all costs.
No Sad Songs has no villains and instead includes an ensemble of characters typically found in high schools, hospitals, and the local pizzeria: John Chen, Gabe’s best friend since grade one, Marlie McDermott, Gabe’s cheerleader crush, and the edgy Sofia, whose love of classic punk rock and tattoos sustain her through her mother’s illness. There’s plenty of adults as well, including Mr. Perdomo, the pizzeria owner who gives Gabe a job, Dr. Weston, his grandfather’s doctor, and Uncle Nick who “never visited or bothered to even send a birthday card”. Each play an essential role in Gabe’s growth and development until he becomes a “hero” in his own right.
Also effective is how Gabe’s story is told. Morelli balances the narrative with Gabe’s “personal essays”, which are really journal entries that further draw the reader into his world. Thanks to an English teacher, Mr. Mastro, who “actually listens to your thoughts and opinions about literature”, Gabe develops a deep appreciation for poetry and the written word. Filled with reflections and flashbacks, the entries take the reader through a series of memories including a moving scene with a lost eight-year old Gabe being found by his grandfather at Veterans Stadium during a ballgame.
From Maya Angelou to Dylan Thomas, an eclectic mix of writers shed insight into Gabe’s state of mind and reveal his compassion and fear. In one unlikely case, Gabe compares Charlotte Bronte, “one of the most influential feminist writers of her time” to his deadbeat Uncle Nick by noting how Bronte’s poem “Regret” is relevant to Nick. Christina Rosetti’s words, “When I am dead, my dearest/Sing no sad songs for me” finally allow Gabe some peace after he is forced to confront his realities which end in disappointment and heartbreak.
Morelli shared in an interview that he hopes “readers will finish No Sad Songs with a new respect for what it takes to be a caregiver…” He has succeeded. A story of great loss, sacrifice, and struggle, this novel is a look at resilience and what it means for young and old (Uncle Nick finally gets his act together!) to come together in life, love, and friendship. A highly recommended read.