#BlogTour: When YA Literature Goes Into A Different Direction:
No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli

§ I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel. §

No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli
Gabe is a normal high school student: his grades are average, he drives a used car, and plays the xBox on the weekends. Naturally, he has a hopeless crush on the most popular girl in school and is fond of baseball.

It only takes one night to turn his life upside down: Gabe gets a call and is told that his parents died in a car crash ...

Suddenly, he is responsible of the house, his life and has to take care of his grandfather. Grandpa suffers from Alzheimer's and can't be left alone, so while juggling life and school, he also has to drive him to the doctor and make sure he is treated well.

In addition, his Uncle Nick decided that the best way to "help" was to live with Gabe. Unfortunately, Uncle Nick is anything but a trustworthy and reasonable adult - he looks like a beggar, hasn't been able to hold a job for longer than three days, and tanked his education in the pursuit of a pretty girl.

It goes from bad to worse when Gabe sees a tend in the car. Later that day he hears the news that there had been a hit and run and the car description fits his car. Gabe and Uncle Nick have an alibi, which leaves only to have done this: Grandpa.

This leaves Gabe between a rock and a hard place: He had promised his late father that he would take care of Grandpa. How should he act now? Tell the police the truth and hand his sick Grandpa over to the authorities? Or does he lie and cover up for him, so that his Grandpa can live the rest of his life at home?

I can describe this book with a very simple expression "woah," but what caused this reaction?

When I started reading "No Sad Songs" I thought that it would be a typical young adult novel dealing with coming of age. What could possibly make it stick out? Well, only a couple of pages into it, I realized that this book was something bigger:

Morelli decided to go into a direction that is unusual for young adult novels. This is the first time I held a YA novel in my hands that had Alzheimer disease as a topic.

Then there are the characters: Each main character is fleshed out and thought through. Everyone has a different backstory and the motivation behind their actions differs.

Since Gabe is the main characters, we learn the most about his childhood, his dreams and thoughts. As the story progresses you get to know about all the other characters as well. We discover that Uncle Nick isn't all that hopeless as he had been made out at the start. Sofia is not a random punk girl but quit school and became a tattoo artist in order to support her sick mother. We even get stories told about Grandpa to show us the person he was before the disease took a hold of him.

Thanks to this type of relatable story telling, I felt that it would be easy to get along with each of the characters. While Gabe's motives are honourable but still questionable, one can follow his train of thoughts perfectly and make sense of his actions.

"No Sad Songs" does not only manage to be empathetic but it is also funny at place. The tension of the plot is often lifted by a funny sub-plot or scene, such as Gabe's rather pathetic attempt to try and get a date with the most popular girl:

"But suddenly I'm there.
Her knight in shining armor. Totally by chance. No signs of a plot afoot at all. And I'm here to save the date. I mean, the day."

This light tone manages to ease a plot that would usually be rather heavy.

The only part that left me with mixed feelings was how Gabe's dilema had been solved. Either Gabe would "betray" his late father by telling the police the truth: that Grandpa had driven the car, causing a hit and run. Or he would risk ruining his own life by "protecting" his Grandpa by admitting to the crime. Since this is not a black and white issue, each option would leave a sour taste. Thus Morelli chose a middle way ... This left a bit of a bitter taste behind. While reading I thought that it may have been better to pick a side. However, this lack of choice, leaves the reader to consider each side more carefully and wonder what they would have done in such a situation.

Overall, "No Sad Songs" by Frank Morelli is a good and casual read that takes a story in a different direction than other Young Adult novels. If you want to try something new to read this summer, this is your best place to go.

Furthermore, as I sat on my balcony, legs probed up on the table with a half-full Gin and Tonic in my hand, I finished the last pages and I felt myself tearing up a bit. It is the perfect emotional roller coaster you need, so, yes, I would recommend reading this little story about Gabe, Grandpa and Uncle Nick.

No Sad Songsby Frank Morelli
Published2018by Fish Out of Water Books
Pages: 320
Goodreads:Add to shelf
Buy on ...amazon.deamazon.co.uk

More about Alzheimer disease:

This is the first book that I had read that uses Alzheimer as a topic. In writing it Morelli helps to raise awareness of not only the disease alone but also about the relatives who have a patient in the family. As of today, there is no known cure for Alzheimer.

6% of 75-year-old and 20% of 85-year-old adults suffer from the disease. It is rare that anyone suffering from Alzheimer is older than 85 because the life expectancy is lowered.* There are 10 warning signs to look out for:

► frequent memory loss and repetition
► problems during familiar habits
► impaired speech
► disorientation
► temporary confusion
► clouded judgement
► misplacement of objects
► mood swings
► changes in behaviour
► depressed behaviour

If you notice these signs in a relative - or yourself - then consider making an appointment with a doctor. **


He has been a teacher, a coach, a bagel builder, a stock boy, a pretzel salesman, a bus driver, a postal employee, a JC Penney model (see: clerk), an actual clerk (like in the movie of the same name), a camp counselor, a roving sports reporter, and a nuclear physicist (okay, maybe that’s not true). At heart, he’s a writer, and that’s all he’s ever been. His fiction and essays have appeared in more than thirty publications, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, Jersey Devil Press, and Indiana Voice Journal. His sports-themed column—“Peanuts and Crackerjacks”—appears monthly at Change Seven Magazine.

A Philadelphia native, Frank now lives near Greensboro, NC in a tiny house under the trees with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog.

Find him on:

Website | Twitter

* web.archive.org - wdr.de [DEU]
** https://demenz-portal.at/ [DEU]


  1. This is quite possibly the best book review I have read... Ever! Firstly, it gives a look at what the book is actually about, and also a slight personal view on it as well. Added to the additional information about the author and the topic - Fantastic!
    I have been searching for ways to make my own book reviews better and more than just "I loved/hated this book" I hope I can eventually get mine to half the level that this is at.

    1. oh my god, thank you so much for this comment. It means the world!!

  2. I was drawn to this book while reading the summary you gave at the beginning. I completely agree that this is very different from the usual YA novel. I understand that a middle path between betraying his father's wishes and giving himself up to the police can be a little difficult to stomach but I would still want to read this book.

    1. It still has a pretty decent ending. I would recommend reading it :)

  3. Sounds really interesting! I might have to check this out haha! 😊 and that gin and tonic sounds amazing. 😉

    Have a lovely week!


    1. Please do, it's a great book! And you're always invited for some G&T :)


Copyright © floralcars.