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Self-proclaimed teenage philosopher Cordell Wheaton lives in a sleepy, southern town where nothing ever happens; not since his hero, jazz musician John Coltrane, left some seventy years earlier to “follow the sound.” Cordy’s life has been unraveling since the night his father and his brother, Travis, exploded on each other. The night Travis’s addiction transformed him from budding musician into something entirely different. The night Travis took his saxophone and disappeared. When Cordy’s father falls ill, the sixteen-year-old vows to reunite the Wheaton family. He embarks on a modern-day odyssey with forty bucks in his pocket and a dream to find his brother and convince him to be Travis again—by taking him to a show at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, and reminding him of the common bonds they share with their legendary hero. Cordy’s journey is soon haunted by ghostly visions, traumatic dreams, and disembodied voices that echo through his mind. He starts to wonder if the voices are those of the fates, guiding him toward his destiny—or if he’s losing his grip on reality.
About the Author
Frank Morelli’s debut young adult novel, No Sad Songs (2018), was a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee, a VOX top Hopepunk title, and winner of a 2019 American Fiction Award for best coming-of-age story. His fiction and essays have been featured in The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, Boog City Review, and Highlights Magazine. Morelli lives in High Point, NC. Connect with him on Twitter @frankmoewriter, on Instagram @frankmorelliauthor, or at his author site frankmorelliwrites.com.
For No Sad Songs: “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
“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
"With a haunting secret, a brave journey and fascinating characters, On the Way to Birdland will remind readers that when you take a giant step into the unfamiliar, you might just find yourself." —Joelle Charbonneau, New York Times Best Selling author of Verify and Disclose
"With balance, beats, and rhythm, this heartfelt coming-of-age story is bridged together like a Coltrane riff under Frank Morelli's skillful hand. On the Way to Birdland and its cast of diverse, fully fleshed-out characters are now included among My Favorite Things." —Brenda Rufener, Author of Since We Last Spoke and Where I Live
"Listening to and believing in our fears keeps away from a life we wish for. On the Way to Birdland shows us what's possible when we listen to something else." —Angelo Surmelis, author of The Dangerous Art of Blending In
"On the Way to Birdland is a work of tremendous heart. It sings with the joys and pains of family, hope, and impossible dreams. A must read for everyone trying to find their way back to what matters most." —Adrienne Kisner, Author of Dear Rachel Maddow, The Confusion of Laurel Graham, and Six Angry Girls
"A classic tale of choice and chance, with more twists than a Virginia mountain road, On the Way to Birdland is a guide to finding your true self by accepting that you are 'completely destructible...desperate not to get destroyed.'" —Valerie Nieman, Author of To the Bones and Backwater