by Susan WhiteAcorn Press, 2018
ISBN 9781773660080 (sc)
$8.99, 167 pp, ages 13 – 17
Headliner, a novel by Susan White, tells the story of Franny Callaghan, a high school student in New Brunswick, who is trying her best to keep her family together. Set a few months after her older brother was tragically killed in a bus accident, this novel shows the effects of his passing on Franny’s family. Her younger sister and father are rarely home, spending most of their time traveling to different speed racing competitions. This leaves Franny at home to care for her grieving mother. Her mother rarely leaves her room, and mostly communicates through her closed door. Franny feels alone, and desperately wants her parents to notice her. This leads her to some bad decisions and becoming friends with the wrong type of people. In order to feel closer to her late brother, Franny decides to go to the concert of one of his favourite bands, without getting the permission of her parents or even telling them where she is. After a night full of music and unforgettable experiences, Franny learns that true healing sometimes just takes time.
It was interesting for me to read how grief affects different people. For Franny’s sister and father, it made them want to run and stay away from their home, while Franny’s mother locked herself in her room, leaving Franny to feel alone and trying to keep the family all together. This showed me the complexity of grief and how people are impacted in so many different ways.
I would recommend this book for grades 8 to 10. It was an insightful read that kept me engaged throughout its entirety.
Review by Anya, age 17, grade 12.
This review is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Winter 2020 issue.