Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Sixteen-year-old Taliah has never met her father. Her mother claims that he is someone from her homeland in Jordan, but after gathering some clues, Taliah believes he is rock star Julian Oliver, who grew up in the same Indiana town where her mother attended college. Taliah's suspicions are confirmed when Julian unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep with a request that she accompany him to meet her dying paternal grandfather. On a whim (and since her mother is conveniently in Paris), Taliah decides to go. In Oak Falls, Ind., she comes to know her father's mother, her cousins, and an interesting boy who lives next door, while gaining insight into her parents' relationship and learning something about her own potential as a musician and as a friend. Warga (My Heart and Other Black Holes) skillfully combines three tales: one of introverted Taliah coming out of her shell, one of Taliah's mother as a young immigrant, and one of Julian's rising career and unrequited love. Intriguing, romantic, and honest, the book celebrates the new beginnings that can emerge from tragic endings. Ages 14-up. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-A deep dive into the history of a family she did not know she had shows 16-year-old Taliah Abdallat a great deal about things lost and found. Taliah has never known her father, but a few years back she began to suspect her dad was grunge god Julian Oliver (and not, as her mother, Lena, told her, just some guy back home with whom she had a fling). After sending him three years of unanswered letters, he appears while Taliah's mother is in Paris, confirms his paternity, and whisks Taliah off to his hometown in Indiana, where his father is dying. Everything is happening so fast, and while Taliah doesn't want to make it easy for Julian to suddenly be in her life, she is also desperate to learn the truth of her mother and Julian's past. Taliah is a pianist and songwriter, and the two bond over music, as Taliah attempts to take her best friend Harlow's advice and be open to letting people into her life. Julian and Taliah's present and Julian and Lena's past are woven together nicely, slowly revealing the full story of the parents' romance and their falling out. Some secondary characters are underdeveloped and unnecessary, but the main characters are outstanding. The rushed ending, though not dissatisfying, leaves many unanswered questions. A music-packed look at how we grow, change, and define or redefine relationships. -VERDICT This thoughtful look at finding one's place, sometimes in the most surprising and unexpected ways, will have wide appeal.-Amanda MacGregor, Parkview -Elementary School, Rosemount, MN © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Could it be that Taliah's dad is über rock star Julian Oliver? Mom Lena has always been guarded about the identity of her daughter's father, but when Taliah uncovers some clues about the truth, she launches a remarkable journey of discovery. Julian himself, in a personal crisis as his father lays dying, responds to Taliah's outreach, rather abruptly taking her to meet his family, and revealing the story of his love affair with her mother to Taliah's utter amazement. Lena, meanwhile, has been out of town and races back as soon as she knows Taliah and Julian have met. Taliah has issues with both parents' past decisions and deals with being kept in the dark for years. In flashbacks that feature Lena and Julian's early days together, readers get a unique chance to peek at parents' younger selves. Warga has penned an intense family drama that will pull readers in with poignancy, romance, and grief over lost relationships, all set to the beat of scattered song lyrics woven nicely through the narrative.--O'Malley, Anne Copyright 2017 Booklist
Horn Book Review
Sixteen-year-old Taliah Abdallat has many clues that rock star Julian Oliver is her father, but it's not until he shows up at her door that she knows for sure. She agrees to accompany him to his Indiana hometown, where she meets her dying grandfather and the rest of the family. This beautifully told story about music, love, and family packs an emotional punch. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Sixteen-year-old Taliah Abdallat has fantasized about the father she's never met appearing at her doorstep, but she's undone when he finally shows up unannounced. Ever since she found a note in a hidden shoebox in her mother's room three years ago, Taliah has suspected that her real father is none other than the white American rock star Julian Oliver and not the vague "boy from back home" her Jordanian mother always referred to. Given everything from her love of music to her blue eyes, the unlikely story makes perfect sense to Taliah. But Julian hasn't answered her letters, and her mother hasn't answered her questions. So when Julian shows up while her mother is traveling and asks Taliah to come home with him to meet his family, she has every reason to hesitate. But the promise of finding out the whole story her mother hasn't told her is enough to get her to agree to the trip, and it's more than enough to keep readers hooked. Over an intense few days, Taliah comes to understand her secretive mother better and to gain perspective on her own choices. Readers will find an exceptional portrayal of an Arab Muslim-immigrant experience in Taliah's mother, sensitively juxtaposed with small-town Americana and popular culture. A well-executed family drama of the power of romantic and parental love, secrets, regrets, and new beginnings. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.