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A Little Wanting Song

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A summer of friendship, romance, and songs in major chords. . .

CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published April 1, 2005

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About the author

Cath Crowley

11 books1,349 followers
Author of Words in Deep Blue, A Little Wanting Song (Chasing Charlie Duskin), Graffiti Moon and the Gracie series.

Take Three Girls, a collaboration with Simmone Howell and Fiona Wood, is out in September 2017.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 370 reviews
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews676 followers
July 26, 2018
“I always wonder why some paddocks are green and some are dry when they’re right next to each other”
“Different things going on underneath. Some have got better irrigation.”

It makes sense in a way I can’t explain.

Cath Crowley, man...

Her books just make me daydream. That’s possibly the most accurate way I can describe this personal phenomenon.

There’s always this profound longing, longing, l o n g i n g rooted inside me whenever I am in her books. It’s such an inexplicably wonderful feeling. Even when my chest continuously hurts from it. Even when at times it hits a little too close for comfort, it’s simply divine. It happened with Graffiti Moon (oh how it happened) and sure enough, it happened here with A Little Wanting Song.

This book accomplished something that essentially I think all books strive for: it opens my mind up and make me perceive someone in a kinder light.

And isn’t that why we read?? To widen our horizons and our minds? To be more understanding to others? This book achieved that for me. And how can I give any book that can do that any other rating than 5 stars that it so deserved?

He’s so relieved, he’s been crying. He just doesn’t know the right way to say it. I guess there are a lot of people who don’t know the right thing to say. You don’t notice them so much because they pretend they do.

If you read contemporary YA but haven’t read anything by Cath Crowley, do yourself a favor and go get her books. You don’t even need to thank me later I promise. My biased recommendation would be (of course) Graffiti Moon.

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
March 30, 2012

"I've got stars in my blood, burning bright under my skin."

I really liked it, let me just say that first. The whole story was bittersweet and moving and captured that sense of wanting that the book was essentially all about.

We are told the tale of a summer in a small town from two points of views: Charlie, an outcast who longs for friendship and to be included in the world that seems to be happening around her, so close and yet just out of reach; and Rose, a girl who dreams of bigger things outside of the small town in which she grew up, desperate not to follow in her mother's footsteps. Both stories are very touching and 'real' in a way that makes me understand the comparisons to Melina Marchetta.

Like Melina Marchetta's novels, there is an intricate exploration of each character, not just the two protagonists, that takes you deep within their minds and makes them instantly unforgettable. The book's focus is on a group of angsty teenagers, unsure of their place in the world and trying to figure themselves and their life paths out... and it's handled very well. All the characters are realistically imperfect, they lie and they manipulate and they steal, but ultimately you can't help but remain on their side throughout.

Nothing's so simple as "she's a bitch" and "he's a jerk", Crowley doesn't waste characters and no one is a simple throwaway addition to the group.

The writing is similarly well-crafted and beautiful, though not as flawless as Melina Marchetta usually is. I found sometimes it lacked smoothness and the author seems a bit too big a fan of similes, most of the time I liked reading the descriptions of the imagery but using multiple similes in one sentence can make it read awkwardly. But, on the whole, the writing really impressed me, especially when it came to some of the breath-taking songs Charlie had written.

I didn't give it five stars because sometimes it was difficult to differentiate between Charlie and Rose, I would occasionally get lost in the writing and forget who's point of view we were on and I would have to go back to the start of the chapter to check. I'm sure some people will disagree but I thought that, even though the protagonists' circumstances differed, their voices in the alternating POVs were often too similar.

Thanks Jasprit for being kind enough to lend me your copy of this :)
Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews507 followers
August 5, 2011
I'm kind of tired of repeating myself and say that these Aussie YA authors write well..... but anyway, THIS Aussie writes well.
This is the second book by Cath Crowley I've picked up, the first being Graffiti Moon, but A Little Wanting Song was actually published before with the original title Chasing Charlie Duskin.
While I loved Graffiti Moon I can safely say I loved this one even more. Because this book is MORE. More of everything. There is more drama, more angst, more reality, and especially in its ending which reflected perfectly what would have happened in a real life situation.

Told in alternating POVs, the story is mainly about two girls, Rose and Charlie. Charlie comes from the big city and spends her non-white Christmases in the tiny village. She is a talented, artistic, introverted and therefore unpopular girl, with a problem with fitting in and an even bigger problem with dealing with grief.
Rose comes from the tiny village and the thing she wants the most is to go the big city. She is a bitchy, larger than life, outspoken and manipulative science geek whose sole purpose is to escape her less than provincial life.
Rose and Charlie are two complementary characters, two sides of the same medal, and it is when they become more or less friends that they learn a long due lesson about themselves, their families and the persons they want to be.

What struck me most about this book is that, characteristics which usually make my eye twitch and irritate me, in this book did not.

First off, Crowley's writing style, especially in Charlie's narration, is very sensorial. She describes what is around her and her feelings by means of noises, colors and metaphors related to music. Some chapters are just songs she writes. When writing in such a style, it is very easy to overdo it and fall into a redundant, flowery prose. Somehow, even though I obviously found the prose a bit purplish at times, it never bothered me or felt like she was trying too hard. It was beautifully done. Let me quote:

"I stand under the waterfall while it smashes at rocks and skin and memory. Gus and Beth take me to bands when they can, when it's underage or they know people running the gig. You walk inside, and the music's so loud the world shatters and the things that didn't make sense before still don't make sense but they don't have to while you're there. That's what it's like here. The water makes everything ice and cracks it. I'm standing under bits of falling me."

And I loved this:

"Charlie just shrugs but she doesn't do it like other people do. She resettles her skin."

Also, this book is so authentically about teenagers. Hence, drama. Hence, lots and lots of angst. But again, I never thought it was too much for me and my inner teenager. I never felt it was stupid or unjustified. There's a lot of drama going on in these people's lives but their reactions are probably what I would have had, had I been in their shoes. So, very very realistic.

Aside from Rose and Charlie, the two main male supporting characters, Dave and Luke, are amazing and funny, and I think you should just go read the book and find out for yourself.
In Dave's words:

"Is your dad better since the accident?". He nods. "People keep calling it an accident. That snake bit me on purpose. I've named it Sneaky. Sneaky had it planned. I saw its face.

Finally, this book is very Australian and I just love that. I had almost forgotten I used to have beetroot in my hamburgers in Aussie land. Almost.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
September 28, 2011
3.5 stars

A Little Wanting Song is a tender, at times poignant story of friendship, first love and yearning for more.

Did I like it? Yes. Did I like it as much as I thought I would? Not quite.

I love to read novels about girl friendships. It is too popular now to explore "mean girls" scenarios - back stabbing, cheating and cattiness. Although this story starts with one girl planning to take advantage of another, it soon becomes a tale of real friendship, a relationship that transforms and empowers - it allows Charlie to come out of her introverted shell and humbles the rebellious and brash Rose.

Add in an Australian bush and couple of sweet teen romances, one - new and shy and another - stormy, and you've got yourself a solid Aussie YA novel. (There is also music, but like in almost all music-centered novels, it completely went over my head.)

This book lacks something though. The moments of brilliance are at times brought down by scenes of mundane and cliche. It is too short and is not as deep as it could be.

I am also not sure if the 2-POV format works to the novel's advantage here. Charlie and Rose have very distinct personalities but their voices sound almost the same. And the story itself is pretty much Charlie's story, her POV dominates, making Rose's less important.

Although I can't call A Little Wanting Song a memorable book, I still think it's pretty good. I am willing to give Crowley another chance.

If you are looking for another YA novel about powerful girl friendships, I highly recommend How to Save a Life, which is a much stronger book IMO.
Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
July 8, 2011
See, the water molecules are attracted to each other so much that they hold on for as long as they can. They grip to each other till they’re too heavy and then they break. It’s why water falls in tears.

Spending a quiet afternoon reading A Little Wanting Song is like watching the stars go harmonic. It’s really beautiful and I loved it! This book is sad, hopeful, funny, heartbreaking, happy all mixed in one from beginning to end. As you read this story, these myriad of emotions just keep crashing into each other like a wave in the ocean, and you can’t help but be swept away by the current. What an awesome Aussie book!

Cath Crowley creates a cast of genuine voices tied to characters that feel so clearly real. Having the story told in alternating POVs was perfection because from Charlie and Rose’s differing perspective we see how two people can be so completely different, but in the end they simply want the same thing… a chance at something new, something different.

See, Charlie is great with words, with lyrics. She can put her thoughts into words but only when she’s singing, not in public, but on her own, in the dark. Sometimes she can’t sleep because she’s swimming in so many words. But when she’s around teenagers her own age, she can’t seem to find that comfort zone, which really hurts her chances at making friends. In the end, she’s just a girl who wants someone she can talk to, someone to fix things when they are broken, someone that’s willing to worry about her and simply show that they care.

Now Rose on the other hand is surrounded by people that care, actually too much in her opinion. See she has a secret she can’t share with her family and friends. She won a scholarship to a city school, but chances are her family won’t let her go and her friends will make it hard to leave. All she wants is a ticket out of her small town and a chance to see the world, and that means leaving her friends and family behind.

Put these alternating voices together and you have a summer filled with lessons, love and inevitably a little bit of hurt.

This book is filled with so many funny moments and light hearted dialog between the characters that blend together perfectly. Some of my favorite scenes below include Dave, which I came to adore. I loved his quiet, confident way and how despite his family situation, he never took his friends for granted and found a way to just make it work.

Favorite Scenes/Dialog
“We took Charlie to the falls. I think Dave likes her.” Rose says and Dave blushes.
“Right. She bent my handlebars.” Dave responds
“Isn’t it about time a girl bent your handlebars?”
“Shut up, Rose.”
“Maybe if you’re nice to her, she’ll let you bend her handlebars.”

You notice how the moon’s been coming out earlier and earlier lately? Like it’s saying, “F the rules I’m here.”

People keep calling it an accident. That snake bit me on purpose. I’ve name it Sneaky. Sneaky had it all planned. I saw its face.


Also, the narrative shares profound moments of revelation. Statements I can associate with so easily because I’ve felt them myself and this book puts them into just the right words, such as:

Favorite Quotes
Some people are hard to understand, so you gotta understand yourself.

I’m not angry at all anymore really. I’m not sad. I’m certain.

See friendship is about believing in someone so hard they believe it too. Sure, it’s about trust. But if anyone hurts her tonight, it’s about ripping them apart with my bare hands and really enjoying it.


Overall this beautiful book was the biz! It’s filled with words, feelings and characters that leave a lasting impression, which happens to be the trademark for Australian stories. Definitely a book I’ll be re-reading as it put me in that place that feels just right to me.

Thanks to my Booker friend Nic for challenging me to read this. Definitely a great pick. :D

It’s just A Little Wanting Song.
It won’t go on for all that long.
Just long enough to say,
How much I’m wishing for
Just a little more.
Profile Image for celine.
127 reviews
May 24, 2023
"It takes a lot of wanting to get out of a place like this, though. It takes wanting so bad it's all you care about, all you dream about, all you breathe. Some days I think it takes more wanting than I've got."

"It's so early he's wiping hills of sand piled up in the corners of his eyes. I wipe a few tears from mine. Tears don't pile, though. They grip and cling and slide in salty trails that I taste till the edge of the city."

"Pink runs down that world. 'Have you ever heard someone play the cello', I ask.
'I'm not sure What's it sounds like?'
'That sky.'
She nods. 'It makes me ache.'
I know what she means."

“We were the only three people awake in a world half asleep and the air felt heavy with maybe. I knew any minutes the sun would explode and color would spread across the sky.”
Profile Image for Aly (Fantasy4eva).
240 reviews120 followers
November 16, 2011
“Her eyes always bothered me when we were kids. They still do. They make mine ache trying to see where they end.”

A LITTLE WANTING SONG features grief, but it's not 'punch you in the gut' kind of grief. There are family relationships with an underline of neglect that are explored, but again, it's not heavy handed. There's betrayal and wanting but it doesn't have your heart racing. I guess what I'm trying to say is that all these things are explored in the novel, but in a more quiet, subtle way. This is more of a personal preference though. I like to feel that punch in the gut, that fury and unbearable wanting. I think Jellicoe Road is always going to make me have these expectations. And that's not this books fault at all. It beautifully handles these topics, it does. It's pretty much a case of: It's me, not you.

A part of me wants to dig right into the premise, but I think I'll hold up on that front because I think it's best if you explore their journey for yourself. I have to say, it was a very smooth read for me. Once it was apparent that I was pretty much devouring the book, I decided to read the second half outside. I've only ever done that with Jellicoe Road, so I have a feeling whenever this urge takes over, it means something very very good ;)

A part of me wants to shout. "It's not real! Things don't work that way." Because bad boys like Luke don't love and stay loyal to a girl, they don't shrug away sex because she means that much to him. Girls like Rose don't suddenly find themselves liking a person after hating everything she stands for, for so long. And nobody can be as beautiful and talented as Charlie and be so self- conscious. And hey, You can't love a girl as much as Dan has always loved Charlie and sit back and watch your two best friends make her miserable. But this book made me believe those things. I think I wanted to believe them.

It's important to remember that there are things that made this book special and memorable for me. Those lovely lyrics that Charlie writes were definite highlights and stuck with me for a while, the way her 'butt' jokes made me laugh. The moments where Charlie wants so much for her father to look at her and not see right through her, the times when Rose feels so suffocated by the place she lives in that it terrifies you to imagine ever feeling the same. Her ambition and fierceness. How Dan is just so damn sweet and honest, how he takes the blame for each of his friends time and time again despite the consequences, and the way Luke is so hopelessly in love with Rose. I could forgive that boy time and time for his careless mistakes for dealing with Rose' harsh words, for truly getting her and always being there for her. There's something so good about that boy - no matter what people from the outside may think.

It is hopeful and funny and completely charming. Guys, I think I have a new favourite author ;) This book may be more subtle in some aspects, but there's definitely something there that reminds me of the magic in Melina Marchetta' work. So I don't even have to think twice when I say Grafitti Moon is next on my 'must read' list. Give this one a go guys, I have a feeling you will adore it <3

Of course, I had to include some of my favourite bookmarked moments :)

"Who's this?" Dad asks when a catchy tune comes on my CD. We pass the skeleton tree that never has leaves, no matter what the time of the year. Bare gray branches wave us on. "No one you know, Dad," I say. It's me.

Mum's the one who understands what I really mean when I say things like that. I cried with her when I got the news about Gran. She was the one who told me to sing "Smashed-Up World" and sing it loud. I did. I punched it at the air before Dad got home. Punched it at the world. Cracked it out till there was no sound left, just an ache in my throat. Mum wouldn't tell. She's good at keeping secrets. She should be.
She's been dead for seven years.

She was two years away from knowing me. Eleven years away from dead. She was beautiful. A hundred times more beautiful than me.

Dave: "You think she'd go out with anyone because she's not like you. She's gorgeous. Fucking gorgeous. You've spent too long in this place to see."

"Un-heard of," Luke said when a little space cleared for him and Dave. "You see that, Rosie? Girls love us." "It's not you. It's Dave." "Dave?" Dave Asked. "Yeah, dickhead," I said. "You."

Dave's got his face to the wall when I sit next to him. He's half crying, half holding it in. "I said go home, Charlie. I don't want to talk about it." "So don't talk," I say. And I hold his hand while he washes the last sixteen years out.

"You notice how the moon's been coming out earlier and earlier lately? Like it's saying, 'Fuck the rules. I'm here.'"

I take a last look back. The sky opens its arms and throws out the storm like old soapy water it's used and finished with. She's soaked and alone. I leave her huddled there. Some people aren't worth crying over.

"You better hope she starts," he says. "because if she doesn't, I'm going out there and you're backup." Dave knows two songs all the way through. "J-Lo?" I ask. "Beyonce." "Shit."

Charlie's screaming under the falls and Dave's yelling and I can't hear a word they're saying and it doesn't matter. All that matters here is letting go. Fuck boredom. Fuck being stuck in the middle of nowhere. Fuck being born with Made In The Back Of A Holden stamped on you back. Fuck paddocks and plastic chairs.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
November 28, 2012
So I’m treading a bit carefully with this review. Woah… wait… calm down! Before you all yell at me and report me to the YA Powers That Be… I’m treading carefully with this review but it’s not because I didn’t like it.
I, of course, adored it.
I adored it because I have eyes and I can read and… if you look really carefully on the front page you will see that this book was written by Cath Crowley, author of Graffiti Moon and one of the few writers who can take teenage emotions and feelings, bottle them and write beautiful stories that make your voice go a bit croaky if you talk in the ten minutes after you finish them.

But I’m treading carefully with this review because I feel my reasons behind why I loved this book might be a bit different than other people. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but I’m a bit wary that I’m about to do the reviewing equivalent of when someone asks “Oh, who did you fancy most in The Avengers?” and everyone answers “Chris Hemsworth” and I say “Mark Ruffalo”*

And there’s a silence.
So let’s try it with A Little Wanting Song.

Which girl did you love most in A Little Wanting Song?

You say “Charlie Duskin”.
And I say “Rose Butler”.
On face value, Rose Butler is a bitch. She’s selfish, she’s horrible, she’s spoilt, she gets her own way, she has a boyfriend who dotes on her, she has an adorable best friend, she’s clever and… well, in any other circumstance I would have switched off.
Charlie was OK but I can’t really imagine being friends with her. This isn’t anything against Ms Crowley’s writing or characterisation, if anything, it was probably because of the wonderful indepth characterisation that lead me to this conclusion. I think in the story, we’re encouraged to like Charlie and feel sorry for her. And I did, but I always knew she was going to end up OK and there was never this risk that she wouldn’t be.

And this is where Rose comes into it. My only criticism with this book is that we didn’t spend nearly as much time with Rose as we should. I often found myself thinking about Rose and her issues when I was spending time with Charlie because I wanted to see if she was going to manage to climb out of the hole she had dug herself.I guess I always root for the underdog and, in this story, Rose was definitely the underdog. While Charlie was a neat character, Rose was messy and tangled and knotted and I just loved that about her. Her wanting seeped out of the pages and there was this sort of restlessness that showed how desperate she was to get where she wanted to be, not caring about the repercussions of her actions and that’s what made her a more interesting character.

She might not always be likeable but it was the raw ache behind her wanting and dreams that I connected with the most.
“Tell me there’s somewhere other than here.”

Hasn’t everyone felt that way at some point?

And also, I think I was a little bit in love with Luke by the end of this book. It was such a wonderfully written and interesting love story. And I find I’m using the i-word less and less when it comes to YA romance, which is ridiculous and sad.

I liked Dave and I thought he was adorable but I don’t know, I think I’d rather spend the day looking for fossils than making mix tapes. But hey, each to their own.

Before I stop rambling, I need to say how much I adored the relationship (no… actually, I’m going to stick with my original word) friendship between these two girls. It’s so rare to find a YA story where there is a genuine friendship or connection between two teenage girls. I sometimes think that YA authors believe that girls can only hate each other or pretend to like each other, which, in my experience, is a load of crap. Not every girl is out to get you or trip you up or sabotage your attempts with a boy.
I loved how these girls might not always have liked each other, but they weren’t catty and mean.

This book is the kind of book that should be read on long journeys down winding country roads, as the setting sun flits through the trees on either side of you.

But failing that, you should read it like I did: cocooned in a duvet, dreaming about your adventures that you’re still yet to have.

*I’m not even explaining this. If you don’t get it, more for meee!

You can read this review and lots of other exciting things on my blog, Wear the Old Coat.
392 reviews332 followers
December 11, 2010
Favourite Quote: 'And then we're at that moment where you both go and get what you want or you both go back. The moment when you say, Stuff being scared; what's on the other side is better. That moment when you inch closer to each other little by little, till you skin starts and ends in the same place. Till your faces get so close your lips start and end in the same place, too. Till you taste milk shake and salt and sugar days and the world spins and the stars sound like harmonicas.'

I loved this book! Cath Crowley has now found a place in my top 5 all time favourite authors. A Little Wanting Song was a brilliant and heartfelt story that dealt with friendship, family and going after the things you want.

This book had so many wonderful elements like a beautiful prose, a sweet and real plot and outstanding characters.

The lyrical writing is touching, subtle and addictive. I found it impossible to stop reading and devoured it in one sitting.

A Little Wanting Song is told from both Charlie's and Rose's points of view. They are complete opposites. I personally could relate to Charlie - shy, lonely and afraid to go after the things she wants. While Rose is loud, tough and not afraid to go after her dreams. Both these characters are authentic and that is one of the things that I loved best about this story. I feel we all have felt like these two as a teen and faced many of the same issues.

There also some wonderful secondary characters like Dave - all round good guy and such a loyal friend. As Charlie says 'Dave is a guy worth writing songs about'. Also Luke - a troublemaker, who makes plenty of mistakes but redeems himself in the end.

Scattered throughout this book is Charlie's songs lyrics and it added another wonderful element to help tell the story and really expressed how Charlie was feeling.

Overall, A Little Wanting Song is an exceptional coming of age tale that shouldn't be missed,

Profile Image for Asghar Abbas.
Author 4 books188 followers
November 6, 2020

Some books are just endowed with a heartbeat and this is definitely one of them. Where every chapter is a pulsating song.

fuck, I love this book.

Beautiful words, peopled by beautiful characters, beautiful writing, beautiful book. A novel where everyone involved can grow. Admittedly, everyone in the book grew up at an accelerating rate. So what? It's a fantasy. It's still an amazing work.

Ala Warpaint; gimme more, gimme more, gimme more Crowley.
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
March 2, 2011
Aussie Book challenge 2011 #3

I guess there are a lot of people who don't know the right thing to say. You don't notice them so much because they pretend they do.

Meet, Charlie and Rose. Charlie loves her music but she craves just one thing. A real friend. Rose loves her boyfriend Luke, but she dreams of being free from her dead-end town and wants to move to the city and go to school.
When Charlie comes to the Country to visit with her grandpa, and flip a few burgers, Rose gets in her head that Charlie might be her ticket out of here. The two become hesitate friends, at first, after a life time of not being one. Finally understanding one another and there wants in life.

A Little Wanting Song is an wonderful heartfelt story about music, friendship and love. This one really surprised me in the best way possible. Each of these characters are so amazing! They have so much life, despite their issues, that it felt effortless to loss yourself in there wants.

Rose and Charlie are very opposite from each other. Rose thinks her mom is to bossy and smothering while Charlie would do anything for her father to just see her. Rose is so out spoken and doesn't take much crap, while Charlie is very shy and has trouble finding her own voice or telling people where to go and how to get there.
And yet, somehow there friendship just works, complimenting one another.
I love how Charlie thinks in-music, and I love the way she keeps her mom and gran close by. Such a charming part of her personality. She was probably the one most easy to relate to. I really got a kick out of the ending and what she said to that jerk, Antony.
Rose on the other hand is a little more intense, has a little more edge, but I sympathize with her need to break free and respect that she's fearless when it comes to her dreams, but she wasn't always easy to like. I'm glad that her intentions turned out to be genuine in the end.
I also really liked both boys, but Luke was such an idiot. He's a troublemaker and a goof and I don't like how he just lets Dave take the blame for all his bullshit, but I guess in the end he's an okay guy. I really loved Dave though, He's got such a good heart and I really enjoyed some of his moments.

My favorite element about this book is that it's stunningly written. Cath Crowley writes with a beautiful poetic fashion and yet it's simple. I found myself re-reading some of the passages through out the book. I wanted to quote the entire book, it so gorgeous!

I keep saying that contemporary isn't my thing, but everytime I read a book like this, it just keeps proving me wrong. Love that!!
Bottom line, the writing is gorgeous, the storyline is remarkable and the characters are outstanding.

Must Read!
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
July 27, 2011
This gorgeous little novel caught me totally unaware.

I shouldn’t have been surprised – it was written by Cath Crowely, after all, and my love of her lyrical style was firmly sealed with Graffiti Moon – but this book basically crept up on me, tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “Excuse me, but I’ll be hijacking your emotions now.”

The themes Crowley deals with are not exactly groundbreaking – friendship, self-esteem, grief, first love, acceptance, change – but they are intensely relatable and touching through the dual perspectives of Charlie and Rose. The wanting these two characters had for something different in their lives was palpable in the prose: Rose’s ambition for a future different to her parents’, Charlie’s longing to become visible. Crowley writes the accompanying feelings of uncertainty, hope, awkwardness and frustration with authenticity. Charlie’s struggle for connection in particular was achingly familiar and beautifully articulated.

‘Chasing Charlie Duskin’ also deals honestly with familial relationships, particularly between parents and children. The dynamic between Charlie and her father was complex, and in the case of Dave (Dave! Love him) and Mr Robbie, unsettling and a little heartbreaking. It’s this emotional realism that makes this book crawl under your skin and keeps the characters lingering with you.

This is a quietly told coming of age story – even the more dramatic plot points happen without accompanying fanfare or histrionics – that felt fitting to the setting. Crowley captures the sense of tightly knit community in a country town, and the beauty and boredom of the place are nicely juxtaposed.

Full of gorgeous phrases (my page flagging of quotes rapidly got out of control), Crowley’s writing is rich and evocative. However, I do feel that there is less restraint used here than in Graffiti Moon, which in my opinion, makes GF the better book.

This is a simple, moving story peopled with realistic characters. It’s sad, funny and ultimately optimistic. A wonderful book by an outstanding author.
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,855 reviews846 followers
September 7, 2012

A Little Wanting Song is quite literally about wanting, and so much more.

Charlie is spending her Christmas holiday with her father at her grandfather’s home in the country. Charlie, like any teenage girl, wants so many things. She wants her Dad to notice her but he’s too crippled by grief. She lost her mother in a tragic accident, but her father might as well have died then too. Charlie wants to be noticed and fit in with friends. She wants to have the courage to play her songs and show her talent to the world.

Rose also wants things. She won a scholarship to a city school, a good school, and she desperately wants to go. She doesn’t want to end up like her mother, pregnant and stuck in a small country town, managing a caravan park. Rose wants to learn about and see all the world has to offer. When Charlie shows up for holiday like she does every year, Rose thinks she might have a way out yet.

This story was told in alternating POVs between Charlie and Rose. I immediately connected with Charlie because she was a likeable character from the first pages. I felt sorry for her, the way she put up with crappy treatment from friends, and neglect from her father. I wanted her to stand up for herself and get what she needed from her dad, and friends, and life.

Rose, on the other hand, took me a little to warm up to. In the beginning, she seems so cold and selfish in her determination to get out of the country.

Rose: “You know the feeling you get when you’re homesick? Things are going great, and then all of a sudden your stomach’s saying, “This isn’t the place you’re meant to be. That’s how I feel all the time.

Rose treated Charlie as an outsider through the years, when Charlie desperately needed a friend, and I was a little repelled. Fortunately, we do get to see the softer, caring side of Rose, as well. She’s constantly trying to keep her boyfriend, Luke, and friend Dave out of trouble, which could be a full-time job. I also warmed to her when I realized how much she started to care for Charlie. In the end, I loved Rose just as much as Charlie. Both characters were real, relatable and flawed.

Cath Crowley’s prose is beautiful without being over-the-top or too flowery. I was exposed to Ms. Crowley’s poetry in Graffiti Moon, through her character, Poet, but she has more of an excuse to let loose in this story with Charlie, a singer-song-writer. What a treat! The lines are gorgeous, conveying volumes in just a few words.

Secondary characters, Dave and Luke were wonderfully done as well. I cared for each and every character in this story. (Except for Louise, she can “shove it up her butt”!) Why is it I fall so hard for the boy next door who’s gorgeous but has no idea? Dave!! The romance, while not a huge part, was so sweet and so dreamy!

He leans in and the bird on his wrist flaps against my neck and his mouth is warm and the inside of me goes harmonic this time and the whole thing is a million times better than what I imagined. And I imagined it pretty good.

If you haven’t read anything by Cath Crowley, do yourself a favor and change that. This brilliant Australian author should be on everyone’s must-read list.

Favorite Poem: Written after kissing, of course:


So slowly, really slowly
I'm all the chords there are

So slowly, really slowly
I'm keys I never heard

So slowly, really slowly
I'm spinning song and dancing
Rising voice beneath my skin

You can find this review and more at The Readers Den.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,230 followers
June 7, 2010
I generally don't read a lot of contemporary, for whatever reason.  I think I'm always afraid that it's going to be very soapy and melodramatic and whiny -- something, I don't know, just a little too much and not really my thing.  But like every genre, there's the good and the bad, and I need to realize that I can't be afraid of sampling it from time to time in order to find the good.  Because when it's good, it's good.  This is good.

In A Little Wanting Song, Cath Crowley was able to really capture not just being a teen, but being a human.  Charlie was one of the most real characters I have had the pleasure of reading in some time.  She's shy and sort of timid, a bit of a wallflower type, but because this is told in alternating first-person accounts, the reader gets to enjoy the really rich internal voice that Charlie has.  She's smart and funny and artistic, and she's also nervous and lonely and a million other things that work together to make her a fully-realized character.  She almost ceases to be a "character" at all, and becomes someone you can really connect to.  And Rose isn't far behind on the Full Character Scale.

Just as much as the characters, I enjoyed Crowley's writing.  Her prose was simply beautiful: it was smooth and flowed well in that way that makes it hard to put a book down -- you know you should because it's 2:00am and you have to work in the morning, and as soon as you find a good stopping point, you will put it down, but first, how about one more chapter to see how Charlie reacts to what Rose just did; oh, that's how?  Well, we better see how Rose reacts now...Hmm...maybe one more...  It's that kind of writing.  It just seems effortless, which means there was probably a good deal of effort behind it.  There's a lot of relatable humor in both Charlie's and Rose's narration.  And even if the voices overlap sometimes, they still remain their own distinct characters; it's almost in the way that good friends sound a little alike, but you can tell them apart -- it's probably part of the reason they are good friends.

This is a coming of age story, and a friendship story at its finest.  Even when it's completely predictable -- and it can be -- it still works.  It's thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing, and it's got me rethinking my stance on contemporary fiction.  Or at least considering widening my stance on CF.  The only real downsides for me -- and really, I was able to set them aside -- were: the bit of predictableness I mentioned ^^.  There is a formula to coming of age stories, and this one does use it a bit; also, there is a spot in the middle of the book that, though I don't dislike it, I wonder if all of what happened needed to happen.  It seemed not quite forced, but almost.  Like action and craziness was needed as a catalyst.  As I said, I liked it, but it was a tiny bit jarring to have a ton of stuff suddenly happening in a rush.  But these were minor and the rest of the book more than made up for it.

One last thing I want to mention: Charlie writes songs, and some of them are included in the book as a sort of poetry, and at first I was very dubious.  I don't always trust great prose writers to write great poetry -- because often, they don't.  So I have to give Cath Crowley a bit of a pat on the back, because some of her poetic interludes were really very nice.  They stayed in Charlie's tone, they were expressive and lyrical without being too much, and some of them were really affecting.

I would recommend you pick this up, it would make a great beach read.  Or a great winter, cuddled up with cocoa read. :)

[disclosure: This book was sent to me by Knopf books for review at my request, yo!]


Here's my Teaser Tuesday from A Little Wanting Song; it's from the beginning of the book, and it sets the tone and draws the reader in beautifully.  Very funny.



"Who's this?" Dad asks when a catchy tune comes on my CD.  We pass the skeleton tree that never has leaves, no matter what time of year.  Bare gray branches wave us on.  "No one you know, Dad," I say.
It's me.

~ ~ ~

The [Christmas:] tree flicks me the finger on my way throught the living room.  I flick one back.  Solidarity.  Christmas isn't always what you'd hoped for.

~ ~ ~

I thank [Dave:] for my hat and close the door.  Sure, I want to open it straight back up and yell his name but I don't.  I draw a line between me and uncool and I don't cross it.
Instead I put on a Fiona Apple CD and turn her up loud.
[...:]  I dance loud to my music.  Oh yeah, I'm sassy.  I'm hard to get, that's what I am.  Hard. To. Get.  Cool.  I slide to the fridge and grab a Coke.  I slide back.  "What are you up to?" Grandpa asks, walking into the kitchen.
"I'm being sassy.  Playing hard to get.  Cool.  Not desperate."
"Dave Robbie's riding his bike around our front yard.  Any idea why?"
In case of fire, it's good to know we can all get out of the house in less than five seconds.  I take a breath and open the door.  "Hi.  Did you forget something?"
He shakes his head.  "I just didn't want to go home."
Fuck cool.  Cool is overrated.


"Do whatever you like, Luke."
"I will," he said.
"Dickhead, I shot back."  Things are bad with your boyfriend when every conversation ends with "Do whatever you like. I will. Dickhead."

~ ~ ~

 Sure, friendship is all about believing in someone so hard they believe it, too.  Sure, it's about trust.  But if anyone hurts her tonight, it's about ripping them apart with my bare hands and really enjoying it.

Note: A Little Wanting Song, originally published in Australia, where it was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year , was originally titled Chasing Charlie Duskin.  I don't know if anything of import was changed along with the title.
Profile Image for Maggie.
431 reviews430 followers
September 22, 2011
I haven't been this excited about an author since I first read Melina Marchetta earlier this year. I'm not comparing the two since comparing anyone to Marchetta is like comparing a book to Hunger Games -- unfair, but Cath Crowley is now firmly on my "Will read anything this author publishes" list. I loved, loved Graffiti Moon and was prepared to be let down but still like this book. I mean, who could follow Ed and Lucy, Leo and Jazz? Answer: Dave Robbie and his black singlet can!

I'm schoolgirl giggling to myself as I read over my Dave highlights on my Kindle. Rose says about Dave,
"Whenever I'd call her Charlie Dorkin, he'd look at the ground till I stopped."
D'awwww, right? Is it any wonder that when Charlie looks at him, she imagines,
"I'm sounding so sexy that my song's hitting him in the chest and stealing what he keeps there."
I feel you, Charlie. I felt her longing, her isolation, her not fitting in, her wanting to scream and yell until people looked at her, really looked at her. I felt her disappointment when it seems her one true friend is growing away from her and her desperation to hold on to what was.

Rose, on the other hand, that bitch... you want to dislike her, she does dislikable things, but damn it, you understand her too. She just wants to leave her small town and the small future she sees in it and she'll do anything to get that wish. At 16/17, one of my clearest memories (and the impetus behind my applying only to colleges on the East Coast) was needing to leave -- and I lived in LA. I can't imagine the claustrophobia and fear Rose had, that if she stayed even one minute longer, she'd end up exactly like everyone else in that town -- stuck. And Rose is someone who wants to study science (another one!) and has a picture of protistan shells framed in her room.

This is a great book that touches on loss, wanting, friendship, and love but never falls into angst -- and thank you for that, Cath Crowley! I also loved the glimpses into each character's relationship with his/her parent(s), and how every teen seems to think everyone else has it better. Read this and you'll be singing the praises of Cath Crowley and black singlets in no time!
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews87 followers
May 30, 2011
I didn't quite enjoy this one as much as I had hoped.... the cover just screamed AMAZING at me. While it wasn't my absolute favorite, i still liked it. And, now that I'm finished I am left longing for more.

Charlie was hands-down my pick. Compared to Rose, she just seemed so much nicer, like someone I would want to be friends with. I loved her quirky songs and random thoughts... I too love FOZZY!!! I wanted a bit more from her relationship with Dave, but it was great for something to be so innocent and not sex, sex, sex!!! They were just sweet.

Rose and Luke on the other hand were a little bitter. I did not enjoy their characters as much (especially Luke). But, Rose had some redeeming moments, especially toward the end.

A little hard to get into at first, but well worth the persistance!
Deals with: Grief, being an outsider, depression, boredom, wanting to escape, music, etc.

4.0 stars
Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews385 followers
February 9, 2012
Meh. A Little Wanting Song is told from alternating points of view. There is sixteen year old Charlie, a socially awkward, sensitive, musically talented girl with few friends. And there is also Rose, a sixteen year old, socially awkward, mean girl who is also quite interested in science and has few friends. Do they sound a little similar here? They do in the book, too. Their voices aren't that different from each other. This book relies heavily on dialogue between not just Charlie and Rose, but also their friends Dave and Luke, as well as Charlie's dad, granddad, and the ghost voices of Charlie's mom and gran. It might have worked better had this story only been from Charlie's point of view, or displayed less dialogue. But as it is written, all of these unique characters came out sounding so very much alike.

The plot here had little surprises. Read the synopsis, what do you think is going to end up happening? Between the undistinguishable characters and the obvious plot, A Little Wanting Song is missing that Aussie magic. This story had potential, but as it is, it doesn’t really bring anything new to YA lit.
Profile Image for Dija.
413 reviews230 followers
February 8, 2013
This was just as good as Graffiti Moon (not better, though). I liked Charlie more than Rose, but Rose's romance was a lot better than Charlie's. Only wish there'd been a little bit more to the ending because it felt rather abrupt. Then again, this book could have been extended by ten more chapters and I would have still wanted more of Crowly's beautiful writing. :)
Profile Image for Hazel (Stay Bookish).
635 reviews1,615 followers
October 30, 2015
I knew I had to read this after loving Graffiti Moon so much and I didn't think it was possible but I loved A Little Wanting Song even more!! So funny and sad and gorgeously written. Loved the friendship, the music, the romance. THIS IS WHAT PERFECT HARMONY SOUNDS LIKE.
Profile Image for Steph Su.
949 reviews452 followers
June 18, 2010
Who could've guessed that such an unassuming book could be so lyrical, so haunting, so memorable? But so it is. A LITTLE WANTING SONG blew me away. More than simply pretty words or a classic coming-of-age summer story, Cath Crowley’s impressive novel is beautiful inside and out in its own quirky way, just like its characters.

Cath Crowley clearly has the heart of a poet. Words feel like her beloved; there is a simultaneous ease and depth with which she writes, stringing phrases together that, at first glance, don’t look like they would work, but when you look closer, you realize could not have been better expressed. This is one of my favorite passages (and you know it’s an unusual day—and review—when I’m actually quoting from the book):

"I stand under the waterfall while it smashes at rocks and skin and memory. Gus and Beth take me to bands when they can, when it's underage or they know the people running the gig. You walk inside, and the music's so loud the world shatters and the things that didn't make sense before still don't make sense but they don't have to while you're in there. That's what it's like here. The water makes everything ice and cracks. I'm standing under bits of falling me. Dave and Rose are screaming, but I can't hear them. I scream back all the things I want in this world that I can't have. The water's making me cold and Dave's making me burn and I'm writing songs played with strings of sun and ice and honey." p. 113 (ARC version)

There’s rhythm and music and a sort of profound understanding of humanity all here. It’s like magic. There’s no other way to describe it.

But, of course, a book cannot just stand on one excellent aspect alone, and the characters in A LITTLE WANTING SONG are that slick combination of too-cool-for-us and one-of-us. Maybe it’s the way Cath writes, which makes me feel like Charlie, Rose, Luke, and Dave live in this world that’s much cooler than mine, even though it’s technically the same world, and they certainly don’t think they’re living in poetry. However, I adored the dialogue, and the way they were all distinct, and the way I could half recognize them and half be fascinated by their “otherness.”

It’s hard for me to review A LITTLE WANTING SONG, as its beauty cannot be imitated, and must be experienced to be believed. Perhaps I’ll just leave with saying that, as soon as I get my hands on a finished copy, I know this will be a book that I’ll reread when I need inspiration, and I know that I’ll always be able to find something new to love each time I do.
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews567 followers
July 15, 2010
I could tell by the description of A LITTLE WANTING SONG that I would enjoy it, but I had no idea how much I would come to love it. Often, when I finish a good novel, I'll feel satisfied, but ALWS was different. Cath Crowly left me longing... longing for more of this brilliant, soulful novel and the characters I had come to love.

ALWS is told in alternating point-of-view by Charlie and Rose, two girls who are, at first glance, complete opposites, but, in truth, have more in common than either ever imagined. At first, I felt much closer to Charlie, which I think was primarily due to her music. Her lyrics are simple, but so incredibly full of truth and raw emotion; I could feel the power behind them. It's just a little wanting song/ It won't go on for all that long/ Just long enough to say/ How much I'm wishing for/ Just a little more Rose is much more guarded than Charlie and keeps her emotions tightly locked away. It wasn't until she allowed some of that emotion to show that I really connected with her. By the time I finished the novel, I had become so invested in Crowley's characters that it was almost painful to leave them behind.

Often, in YA literature, parents are mysteriously absent. Other times, they are completely horrid. There are, of course, exceptions, but, in my experience, those exceptions are few and far between. In ALWS, Rose and Charlie's relationships with their parent(s) profoundly affects their actions and beliefs. I'm extremely greatful that Crowley focused on this aspect of Charlie and Rose's life, since, in real life, this relationship definitely has an impact.

Since ALWS is told from two POVs, the romance is unique. Charlie's budding romance with Dave, one of Rose's closest friends, was absolutely perfect. Their relationship moves slowly, with shy smiles and wistful glances. The tension between the two was fantastic. If Charlie and Dave's relationship is a steady flame, Rose and Luke's is an explosion. It isn't that the couple doesn't care deeply for one another - they honestly do - there's just many unresolved issues between the two. While the romantic in me dislikes their rocky relationship, I could identify with Rose's fears and anxiety, allowing me to appreciate it.

A LITTLE WANTING SONG is a gorgeous novel that has captured my heart and refuses to let go.

Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews709 followers
June 6, 2011
I'll keep this short: at first I thought it would be predictable: two girls who both want. Whether it's where the other was or what the other was like, they both wanted something. And for a little while it was (predictable,) then I got to know them a little more. Rose Butler isn't simply the tough/smart/pissy girl who couldn't wait to leave. Charlie Duskin isn't just the awkward girl who could sing. They were more than those things. I couldn't really relate to either of the girls, Rose was too intense, Charlie a bit too in herself all the time, but they balanced each other out. And the boys were wonderful additions too~ Dave, a good guy and Luke playful idiot. And then there's the music in the chapter: sweet, honest. and a little angsty but not too much (My favorite was her song for Dave. I want to cut copy paste that right on here... )

worth reading over and over again.
Profile Image for Janina.
214 reviews527 followers
March 2, 2012
Ahhh, I adore Cath Crowley's writing and she definitely managed to lure me in again after the great read that was Graffiti Moon. A lovely coming of age story told in alternating points of view, music, summer (I love me my summer books), boys, friendship. The star of this novel for once wasn't the devoloping relationship between Charlie and Dave, but much more the friendship between Charlie and Rose, two girls who couldn't be any more different. The book has this wonderful melancholic feel to it that comes with summer ending, growing up and letting go, but also with new possibilities and fresh starts. LOVE! Not quite as good as Graffiti Moon, but still a great read.

#12 Aussie YA Challenge 2011
Profile Image for Watermelon Daisy.
186 reviews100 followers
December 20, 2011

I love this book so much. I love it, I love it, I love it. It didn’t take me long to read this at all, and believe me, it has nothing to do with the number of pages. Where do I start? This was one of the most original books I’ve ever read.

We have the main character who has always been misunderstood, but Charlie doesn’t have that “cliché” feeling attached to her. The reason people tend to overlook her is actually quite reasonable –she’s never able to speak out what she’s actually feeling. She must be an amazing singer, probably better than most others, because she keeps her feeling locked up. It’s obvious that when she sings, she’s pretty much letting all her true feelings. Releasing them.

None of the book felt sappy and unrealistic. Nothing. The author does a splendid job on making me feel sorry for Charlie, and yet, I’m not irritated at her for not speaking aloud. If it was any other character I would’ve probably felt extremely hot-headed –but Charlie’s different. There’s something about the way she is portrayed in this book.

This book doesn’t really tie up all loose ends with Rose’s point of the story. I don’t really know if she and Luke ever got back together, but something tells me they’re back to the way they were –best friends. Ah, this book isn’t talking about just Charlie but it also explains a little more about Rose. I have to admit, if I wasn’t able to see the story from Rose’s point of view, I would’ve labelled her as that stereotypical “pretty” girl who’s mean without reason.

But I didn’t have to do that. Despite having two points of views, Charlie continues to be the main character. Heck, I think the only reason Rose’s point of view was included, was so we could get more depth is both herself and Charlie. She’s one of the many challenges Charlie faces in this book, but Rose is kind at heart. I like that.

Dave is definitely one of my favourite characters. He’s a little weird, and it really refreshes me to know that he turned down the “hottest” girl in school (not being Rose. This other girl, Justine, I think). He, Rose and Luke are always together, getting into trouble. But in reality, it doesn’t’ suit Roses’ nerdy personality at all. Rose is smart. Really smart. That’s why I admire her and the way her goal changes throughout the book from pretending to like Charlie to needing her.

Everything in the book was heartbreakingly gorgeous. The way Charlie’s emotions are shown, and the way her mother died. It’s just… amazing. This could’ve easily been one of those cliché-feeling books, but it wasn’t. It was realistic. Heck, I don’t think I’ve read anything more realistic in the “death” department.

The author’s writing is beautiful. Literally. She uses so many similes and metaphors that I know every feeling and description in the book.

Overall, this is a book I’m happy to read over and over again and still wouldn’t get bored of it. One of my official favourites.

Remy xx
Profile Image for Jess - The Tales Compendium.
321 reviews25 followers
April 25, 2011
What can I say except WOW. I was completely absorbed from the first page (well actually the quotes on the back got me first) and read it in one sitting. Cath Crowleys' words flow so well, they are like a warm blanket wrapped around you in the middle of winter. They are comfort. This is a funny, beautifully written novel that will leave you desperate for anything else this fantastic author has written.

"There was this beat under my skin, a little disco weaving through me. That's how it is when I'm alone and playing the guitar, but that's never how it is in a crowd."

Rose and Charlie are both wonderful, real characters. They have hopes, fears and big hearts but their personalities are very different. Rose is trying not to suffocate in the small town she has grown up in and she will do anything to escape. Half the time she is rebelling, the other half she is the perfect student.

Charlie is a quiet, music-loving girl who is yet to come out of her shell. All she needs is a little confidence and friends who won't laugh at and ignore her. Her father no longer notices her and is a shadow of his former self. She talks to both her mother and grandmother in her head, taking advice from those she knows loved her. She spends her time writing songs and playing her guitar for no one but herself, scared of the rejection that she is sure will follow. As an added bonus for us readers, Crowley includes the lyrics that Charlie writes throughout the book.

Charlie and Rose's friendship develops slowly but is one where each girl realises the other is not how they always perceived them and they find they have someone they can really talk to.

Charlie's relationship with Dave should also be mentioned. For years, both watched the other from afar. Dave is caring and loyal and he never shared the same views towards Charlie that Rose and Luke had. This summer, they actually make small, embarrassed efforts towards asking the other out and they really are so sweet together. It's really cute watching them dance around each other until one of them actually finds some courage.

Go and find this book. Now.
Profile Image for Jessica.
336 reviews13 followers
April 26, 2011
So any other awesome Australian authors out there hiding from me?

Not as good as Melina, but the comparison is a good one. I really identified with Charlie, since I too have trouble with the sort of talking that others find so easy. I've also known my share of Louise Spatula's in my life (even as recently as law school, which is basically just high school all over again).

I think the Charlie's of the world are often overlooked in, especially in young adult books.

I do wish we got to see more of Charlie and Rose becoming friends. It seems to happen really fast, and could have been developed a little more. I like how they challenged each other though (even if Charlie does most of hers without knowing it).
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews376 followers
March 7, 2022
I read this in 2006 and really liked it - after reading Graffiti Moon I should probably check it out again :)
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,164 followers
May 10, 2012
Rating: 3.5 Stars

For some reason, I was utterly surprised by this. A Little Wanting Song is the type of story that creeps upon you, slowly invading your every thought, memory, and emotion and proving to be both an evocative and powerful read. Although I'll admit that Cath Crowley's Graffiti Moon was definitely a much better book - both in terms of the writing style, depth, and story - A Little Wanting Song was beautiful and will be sure to resonate deeply with every girl.

All Charlie Duskin has wanted is to be noticed - by her father, who is still mourning her mother's death seven years later; by her grandfather, who is now mourning her grandmother's recent death; by Dahlia, her best friend who no longer seems to be her best friend; by Rose, her country-side neighbor who seems to despise her; and by Dave, the gorgeous boy who she's been pining after for nearly a decade. All Rose Butler wants is to escape - escape her parents, who won't let her do anything; escape her boyfriend, who does nothing but land himself in trouble; escape her school, which is stuck in the middle of nowhere; and escape her small town that she's never been out of. Charlie and Rose couldn't be more different from each other if they tried, but when Rose begins to see Charlie as her ticket out of her dull life, things start to look up - for both of them.

To be honest, my brief summary of this novel does not do it enough justice. A Little Wanting Song is so much more than a tale of friendship between two girls. It's also about a tale of love, caring, family, and discovering who you are, what you want, and how to move on. It's about Dave, dealing with a father who is constantly yelling at him but underneath all that anger, is love. It's about Charlie's dad, too guilt-ridden and broken to move on past his wife's untimely death. It's about Rose's mother, wanting to hold on to her little girl for just that much longer. Every single character in this tale has their own story to tell, journey to make, battle to fight. It isn't simply Charlie and Rose who are suffering in their own small bubble of misunderstandings, grief, and seclusion - it's nearly everyone. I love that Crowley makes us see beyond these two girls and into their lives, their friends, the people they are with. She thoroughly sucks us into their lives, makes us fall in love with them, appreciate them, understand them, and feel their every emotion as if it were ours.

One of the most resonating aspects of this novel is that it sticks with you. It invokes memories you thought you had forgotten and nearly everyone can relate with Charlie and Rose. You don't have to have lost a mother to feel as Charlie does - lonely, forgotten, insignificant. You don't have to be stuck in a small town to feel like Rose does - trapped, suffocated, torn, and confused. You just need to be human, open your heart to their stories, and let them in.

A Little Wanting Song was a truly wonderful read. I especially enjoyed seeing how much Crowley has grown as an author from writing this to Graffiti Moon, an utter masterpiece. Although she employs her same technique of shifting between Rose and Charlie's perspectives, I never felt as if it was truly working or powerful enough. In many ways, Charlie's tale dominated over Rose's, making us feel for her and empathize with her far more. Furthermore, Rose's POV was used as a stepping stone to fill in blanks in the story where Charlie was not present (and even when she was), so I never felt as if I had as deep of a connection with her. Still, it is rewarding to know that books such as these have launched beautiful stories with tight, meaningful perspectives such as those in Graffiti Moon.

Overall, A Little Wanting Song was a fun, cute, and simple read with a deep and heartfelt message. I'll admit that I was a tad bit disappointed by this book, only because it wasn't as good as Graffiti Moon, but it was still a beautiful story. In addition, it was utterly refreshing to read a story centered around friendship opposed to romance (don't worry, there's plenty of that too - it's simply not as poignant when compared to the friendship)! A Little Wanting Song leaves you with a little wanting for more...more music, beauty, and friendships in your life. Yet, its ending is perfect and makes you feel completely satisfied. If you've never read Cath Crowley before, I urge you to at once. Her writing is powerful and will completely take your breath away - just like this book.
Profile Image for Sarah.
3,336 reviews1,017 followers
October 17, 2012
Dark Side Group Read: Dee's birthday book

When I read Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley earlier this year I loved her descriptive writing style and the way she was able to bring the paintings in the story to life. In A Little Wanting Song she does the same again but this time with music, I love the poetic feel to her writing and the way she pulls you into the story and makes you feel emotionally connected to the characters.

A Little Wanting Song is told from two different perspectives. First you have Charlie, a lonely young girl who is trying to cope with the loss of both her mother and grandmother. Her father has become withdrawn since her mother's death and her best friend is spending all her time with someone else so Charlie has become very isolated. She always goes with her father to stay with her grandparents in the country for the summer but since the death of her grandmother nothing feels the same and she is even more lost than ever. I felt so badly for Charlie, her pain and her loneliness were heartbreaking and I was desperate for her to find a way to reconnect with her father and make some new friends. To cope with her loss Charlie loses herself in her music, she works in a record shop and has an impressive collection of Cd's but she also plays the guitar and sings although only when nobody is around to hear her.

Our other main character is Rose who lives next door to Charlie's grandfather. Rose has a pretty good life, she has a boyfriend, Luke, who she loves and they spend most of their time with their good friend Dave. The boys are happy to follow Rose and go along with anything she wants and she enjoys making fun of Charlie whenever she is visiting. Rose has big ambitions though, she doesn't want to spend her whole life stuck in a small town, she wants to make something of herself and earning a scholarship to a school in the city is the first step towards achieving her goal. She knows that her parents will never let her go to the city alone though so she decides that her best option is to befriend Charlie so that she can return to the city with her and her dad.

I have to admit that I didn't like Rose at all to start with, she is the kind of character I love to hate and I was so angry at the way she had treated Charlie in the past. The fact that she befriended Charlie just because she saw her as a ticket to the city just made me even more annoyed with her. In spite of that I found myself warming to her almost against my will as I got to know her better. She puts on a tough face to the world but deep down she can be quite nice and caring and she did genuinely come to like Charlie once she got talking to her. I really enjoyed watching their friendship develop and I loved the way Charlie's confidence grew thanks to both Rose and Dave. I don't want to say too much about Dave but I think he was one of my favourite characters and I really liked the way he supported his friends and how he eventually came to stand up for himself.

A Little Wanting Song is a beautifully written coming of age story, a story about friendships, first love and learning who you are. It's a journey of loss, grief and betrayal but also about getting past those issues and starting to live your life. I enjoyed this book even more than Graffiti Moon and I can't wait to read more from Cath Crowley in the future.
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