“On the eve of her first day of senior high, May Sutherland’s mother gives her a diary in which to record her experiences. It’s 1948 and the entire student body at Magee High in Vancouver is divided according to their preference for Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra. After losing her two best friends overnight, May struggles between her disdain for the debate and her loneliness as one of only a handful of neutrals.”
It was really neat to read a novel placed here in Vancouver in a high school that I considered attending. This short novel was a quick and enjoyable read. The voice of May felt very authentic and it was well-written. Being a big fan of Frank Sinatra, it was really interesting to read about the history of the Crosby/Sinatra debate among teens in 1948.
Sometimes the direction of the novel felt questionable, and although the debate between Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra remained central, nothing was particularly resolved. I do think that the format of a diary is hard to write — on one hand you risk over-informing the reader, and on the other, it’s difficult to move forward quickly.
I would definitely recommend That Tune Clutches My Heart, by Vancouverite Paul Headrick. It was also shortlisted for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and received 2nd prize for Prose Fiction for the Alcuin Society’s Awards for Excellence in Book Design.
Full disclosure: I read a copy of the book that we received in the office. This situation did not affect my review in any way, shape or form.