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Candidly Cline

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A must-read for fans of Julie Murphy and Ashley Herring Blake, this queer coming-of-age story from critically acclaimed author Kathryn Ormsbee sings with heart, warmth, and hope. Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram's favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians' workshop a few A must-read for fans of Julie Murphy and Ashley Herring Blake, this queer coming-of-age story from critically acclaimed author Kathryn Ormsbee sings with heart, warmth,


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A must-read for fans of Julie Murphy and Ashley Herring Blake, this queer coming-of-age story from critically acclaimed author Kathryn Ormsbee sings with heart, warmth, and hope. Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram's favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians' workshop a few A must-read for fans of Julie Murphy and Ashley Herring Blake, this queer coming-of-age story from critically acclaimed author Kathryn Ormsbee sings with heart, warmth, and hope. Born in Paris, Kentucky, and raised on her gram's favorite country music, Cline Alden is a girl with big dreams and a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians' workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom.But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies she feels surrounded by so many other talented kids--especially Sylvie, who gives Cline the type of butterflies she's only ever heard about in love songs.As she learns to make music of her own, Cline begins to realize how much of herself she's been holding back. But now, there's a new song taking shape in her heart--if only she can find her voice and sing it."Empowering, affirming, and sweet as all get-out." --Lisa Jenn Bigelow, author of Drum Roll, Please

19 review for Candidly Cline

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    I am obsessed with Cline Alden! I absolutely loved this sapphic middle grade story from Kathryn Ormsbree, where thirteen year old Cline Alden wants to attend a music work shop to aid in her dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter. We follow her home life and everything she has to do to make her dreams come true....AND IT'S SAPPHIC!5/5 I am obsessed with Cline Alden! I absolutely loved this sapphic middle grade story from Kathryn Ormsbree, where thirteen year old Cline Alden wants to attend a music work shop to aid in her dreams of becoming a singer/songwriter. We follow her home life and everything she has to do to make her dreams come true....AND IT'S SAPPHIC!5/5

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nev

    I just really love queer middle grade stories and books centered around music. Candidly Cline follows Cline, a 13 year old girl who wants to be a musician despite her mom’s disapproval. When an opportunity appears for her to attend a young songwriters workshop she decides to go in secret. There she gets paired up with Sylvie so they can write a song together. The friendship and eventual romantic feelings between the two girls were super sweet. I loved how they bonded over sharing their favorite I just really love queer middle grade stories and books centered around music. Candidly Cline follows Cline, a 13 year old girl who wants to be a musician despite her mom’s disapproval. When an opportunity appears for her to attend a young songwriters workshop she decides to go in secret. There she gets paired up with Sylvie so they can write a song together. The friendship and eventual romantic feelings between the two girls were super sweet. I loved how they bonded over sharing their favorite songs and musicians with one another. There is some heavier subject matter in the book, such as Cline’s grandma having Alzheimer's and homophobia from some side characters. But I think it was handled in a sensitive way. The book also touched on friendships changing as people grow up and how it feels to be let down by somebody. I did want a little bit more development of Cline's friends apart from her best friend Hollie. But overall this was a really sweet book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Gabriella Crivilare

    Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will release November 9, 2021."My musical dream feels delicate. Like, if I share it with too many people, it might dissolve in my hands."Can I speak... candidly? This book is marvelous. From its front cover to its back, this book is chock full of love, determination, and careful handling of a range of issues that might be affecting its readers. And of course, the cover itself is cute as h Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review. This book will release November 9, 2021."My musical dream feels delicate. Like, if I share it with too many people, it might dissolve in my hands."Can I speak... candidly? This book is marvelous. From its front cover to its back, this book is chock full of love, determination, and careful handling of a range of issues that might be affecting its readers. And of course, the cover itself is cute as heck! All of these elements are combined beautifully to create Cline's story. I'm so glad I put off the two eARCs I have that come out a little sooner than this—I think I've found one of my new favorite middle grade books!By the way, this review is a little spoilery, but I didn't want to hide all the spoilers either, because I don't think they really ruin anything. Still, proceed at your own risk.When a waitress who works at the same diner Cline's mother works at gives Cline a flyer for a young songwriters' workshop, the question isn't if she's going to go—it's how will she come up with the money to afford it? Luckily, despite her mother's concerns about the low chances of stardom crushing her daughter's dreams and demands that she be practical, Cline has plenty of grit—and plenty of people who are willing to help her get there. Along the way, the author tackles financial struggles, friendship breakups, religion, crushes and Alzheimer's. With a list of topics like that, this book had the potential to be dragged down, but they were all effortlessly woven together, and it never felt heavy. I won't go very in depth with all of the topics that the author juggles, but there are a few that I feel deserve special attention. The first is the great adults in Cline's life. Gram, who is beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's, spends a lot of time with Cline while her mother is working, and they share a deep love of music. One of the great joys of this book, actually, is every moment where Cline and Gram sing and dance together, reveling in their love of country music. She's the kind of grandma I'd like to have. Actually, I think she reminds me of mine, though I don't think mine would necessarily be as willing to conveniently not tell my mother I'm leaving town every Monday, unbeknownst to her. But still, mine would have helped with the workshop deposit, too! Delia, the waitress who gave Cline the flyer in the first place, helps out by giving her a ride to the campus every week. And Mrs. Yune, a woman that Cline meets while helping out in her friend's church's nursery... she is phenomenal. She comforts Cline after a quite frankly emotionally devastating moment, offers her sympathy and advice and understanding... and ultimately prevents her from quitting her dream. I truly can't get over how wonderful she is. And, ultimately (though she was testing me!) Cline's mother deserves to be called a good adult in her life for the way she's tirelessly worked to support Cline and Gram, even if I wish she hadn't been quite so quick to shut down Cline's dreams. At one point while reading, I noted that Cline is a really great friend. Unfortunately... her friend, Hollie, doesn't remain one. This is for a whole passel of reasons that are tied together. The most significant is because Hollie, upon learning that Cline likes girls while at a church lock-in together, freaks out and makes a PUBLIC prayer request that she overcome this, basically. It's truly upsetting. (For reference, this was around page 114 in my eARC, near the beginning of chapter 18.) And I was INCENSED after Hollie did this, because Cline had already refrained from sharing her musical dreams with her BEST FRIEND because she didn't think she would understand, and she used the song she had written to tell her that she liked girls, in order to sympathize with Hollie's concern over crushes... Unfortunately, I know that this is absolutely something that could happen to a kid, and I was heartbroken for Cline. Friendship breakups are devastating, especially when it's a friendship of that length and when it happens at such a mixed-up and vulnerable time in your life, and so I'm glad to finally find a book that contains one, and one that is handled extremely well, at that. Ultimately, they don't make up. Cline, while still hurt, is the bigger person and forgives Hollie, but she also stands up for herself and tells Hollie that she was wrong to treat her that way at the lock-in. That encounter made me a little shaky, but I was so proud of Cline for having the final word there and being strong for herself.Actually, the whole subject of religion is dealt with really well, too, and this is where we bring Mrs. Yune back into the review. Cline shows a lot of uncertainty about religion early on, saying that the idea of someone watching her and living forever freaks her out. Same, girl. I felt that the entire lock-in segment, where Cline attends with Hollie and her church friends (chapters 17 & 18) was handled well, but what was even better was when Mrs. Yune sat down with Cline after she ran out and had a discussion with her about her own religious beliefs, at the beginning of chapter 19. She very explicitly says that she disagrees with the youth pastor and that she believes in a God who loves everyone and tells Cline that there is nothing wrong with her. Mrs. Yune also lets her know that it's possible that someday Hollie may see that she's wrong, but in the meantime she doesn't need to accept that treatment. I just... growing up Catholic, I wish I had seen this attitude more, because it's the right one to have.And now the crushes, my goodness. While there is only one, and it starts off rocky, it ends up being painfully sweet. From getting to know each other by writing song lists, to collaborating on a song for their workshop, to being too shy to talk about the fact that one of them included a romantic line about a girl in their song (Cline) and one of them didn't comment that they should change it (Sylvie). I felt like it was a pretty realistic interpretation of having a crush at thirteen, not that I remember that all that well. Sylvie is cool, and the relationship develops organically, with perfect amounts of shyness and cuteness. There's a great Halloween moment at the end of the book that made me smile so big. As a side note, I also loved that the author portrayed Cline as generally secure in the fact that she likes girls, but that she at the same time showed hesitancy in coming out to her family and others. It could be due to the setting of the book, or borne out of the pain she felt after the way Hollie treated her, or just being a little unsure about telling her mother and Gram, but regardless of the reason Cline decides to wait to come out, I really appreciate that she decides for herself that she wants to wait until she feels comfortable sharing this important piece of her life. Maybe I'm not reading enough middle grade (and I've definitely been upping my consumption of this age category over the last year), but up until now I don't think I've read a book with a young character who's queer but also has the agency and desire to temporarily keep it to herself, and I think it's just as important for kids to see that you can be and share facets of yourself in your own time. I want to say so much more to you about this book, but instead I'll merely say this:I hope that when Candidly Cline releases this November, there's a big, bright spotlight on it. It deserves to stand out—for music, which is what Cline would want, and for everything else.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Pineo

    What a great, heartfelt book. This middle grade novel centers on Cline, a country music loving singer/songwriter who wants to do what she can to live her dream, even if her mom doesn't understand. Through the book Cline learns about herself, who she can count on, what's really been happening in her family for the past few years and how music affects her whole life. I'm not a fan of country music (can't stand it actually) but the book is no worse to me for it. This young teen's story is so sweet What a great, heartfelt book. This middle grade novel centers on Cline, a country music loving singer/songwriter who wants to do what she can to live her dream, even if her mom doesn't understand. Through the book Cline learns about herself, who she can count on, what's really been happening in her family for the past few years and how music affects her whole life. I'm not a fan of country music (can't stand it actually) but the book is no worse to me for it. This young teen's story is so sweet and earnest you have to cheer for her even when she's doing something wrong.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Audra

    Candidly Cline is a sweet tale of longing — longing to know who you are, to feel accepted, to find your place, and to see your dreams come true. Cline is relatable in her worries and her dreams, surrounded by a cast of people who care about her in many different ways. It also tackles the tough issue of the war that some Christian churches speak about LGBTQIA individuals — and how hurtful, alienating, and wrong that can sound. I would have loved to have this book when I was in middle school, and Candidly Cline is a sweet tale of longing — longing to know who you are, to feel accepted, to find your place, and to see your dreams come true. Cline is relatable in her worries and her dreams, surrounded by a cast of people who care about her in many different ways. It also tackles the tough issue of the war that some Christian churches speak about LGBTQIA individuals — and how hurtful, alienating, and wrong that can sound. I would have loved to have this book when I was in middle school, and I would recommend for any middle school classroom or library.

  6. 5 out of 5

    DaNae

    Popsugar #5 - Sapphic book

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of Candidly Cline!!This book. I would’ve absolutely devoured this book as a kid and I loved it just as much as an adult.I really love and appreciate that this story isn’t about Cline figuring out her sexuality, but instead, it’s just something she knows. There’s plenty of books about kids struggling to figure that out, and that makes this story all the more important because it’s rare and wonderful. Cline knows who she is in a way that only an innocent and optimis Thanks to NetGalley for an eARC of Candidly Cline!!This book. I would’ve absolutely devoured this book as a kid and I loved it just as much as an adult.I really love and appreciate that this story isn’t about Cline figuring out her sexuality, but instead, it’s just something she knows. There’s plenty of books about kids struggling to figure that out, and that makes this story all the more important because it’s rare and wonderful. Cline knows who she is in a way that only an innocent and optimistic kid supported by the greatest grandma in the world can and she never wavers in that. Cline not only knows who she is, but what she wants and what she values, and nothing can stop her.I also enjoyed how well-developed each of Cline’s relationships were and how different each one was. I loved her relationship with Gran, and I adored Sylvie. I wish I was as cool as Sylvie, wow. Overall, I didn’t expect to fall in love with this book as much as did, but now that I’m done, I’m going to miss these characters!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Diane Adams

    Thank you to HarperCollins Children’s Books and NetGalley for providing an advance e-proof, in exchange for an honest review.Candidly Cline, by Kathryn Ormsbee, is the first middle-grade LGBTQIA novel I have ever read, and its very existence delights me. Young kids who are just becoming aware of their own sexuality need to see themselves represented in fiction. That the author dedicated the book to her wife adds a little extra bit of authenticity—this is an Own Voices book.Cline (named for Patsy Thank you to HarperCollins Children’s Books and NetGalley for providing an advance e-proof, in exchange for an honest review.Candidly Cline, by Kathryn Ormsbee, is the first middle-grade LGBTQIA novel I have ever read, and its very existence delights me. Young kids who are just becoming aware of their own sexuality need to see themselves represented in fiction. That the author dedicated the book to her wife adds a little extra bit of authenticity—this is an Own Voices book.Cline (named for Patsy) is an aspiring singer-songwriter who lives with her mother and grandmother and attends middle school in Kentucky. She adores country music, but doesn’t have her family’s full support behind following her dream. Her mother works hard as a waitress to support the family, and is pragmatic about whether it’s possible to make a living as a musician. Her grandmother adores Cline and her music…and is beginning to suffer from a bit of dementia.When she finds out about a songwriting workshop for students, she knows she has to attend—and we soon learn how far she’ll go to make it happen. Her journey to the workshop is filled with both roadblocks—and unexpected support.Cline knows she likes girls, and as her friends at school become interested in boys, this creates new challenges, particularly after she comes out to her best friend. Fortunately, she still has her music. But will she and her partner be able to work together? And will she be able to complete the workshop?A realistic portrayal of the roller coaster that is middle school, the struggles of a loving family, and the importance of the arts in education, to a country western soundtrack that just might include a queer first love story!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Susan Metallo

    When a girl's song-writing dreams start to come true, she has to decide how much of her truth to put in her song lyrics, including the fact that she likes girls romantically.I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.From the plucky protagonist who won't give up on her dreams, to the complex mother-daughter relationship, to the sweet glimpse of first love between two confidently queer young people--there is a lot to love in this middle grade n When a girl's song-writing dreams start to come true, she has to decide how much of her truth to put in her song lyrics, including the fact that she likes girls romantically.I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from the publisher in order to write this review.From the plucky protagonist who won't give up on her dreams, to the complex mother-daughter relationship, to the sweet glimpse of first love between two confidently queer young people--there is a lot to love in this middle grade novel. At the start of the book, Cline already knows she likes girls romantically--and that's just who she is--but questions of tolerance, how and when to come out (and to whom), and emotional safety run throughout the story. Queer tweens will resonate with and take courage from Cline's experiences, especially the encouragement she gets from allies to take care of her own mental health and take the distance she needs from hateful people and institutions, and all readers will root for her in her relentless pursuit of her artistic dreams. A must-buy for library collections, I highly recommend this novel to all middle grade contemporary fiction fans and to middle grade book clubs.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patti Barker

    Cline Louise Arden dreams of being the next Emmylou Harris, but her hardworking, but stubborn mom, who waits tables to put food on the table and pay for Gram's Alzheimer's medicine, constantly reminds Cline that music doesn't pay the bills. When Cline has an opportunity to attend a Young Musician and Songwriters Workshop, she is not surprised when her mom says no! But a determined Cline puts a plan in action and has no idea that the consequences of her action will put her on a path to disappoint Cline Louise Arden dreams of being the next Emmylou Harris, but her hardworking, but stubborn mom, who waits tables to put food on the table and pay for Gram's Alzheimer's medicine, constantly reminds Cline that music doesn't pay the bills. When Cline has an opportunity to attend a Young Musician and Songwriters Workshop, she is not surprised when her mom says no! But a determined Cline puts a plan in action and has no idea that the consequences of her action will put her on a path to disappointing her mom, losing her best friend, and auditioning with her new songwriting partner (and potential crush) for a spot at a local music festival.Along the way Cline learns that she has the support of others including her Gram and a kind lady she meets at a local church who helps Cline and encourages her to pay it forward! Will Cline's mom come around when she finds out just how important Cline's dream is and how talented she is?Check out "Candidly Cline" and find out...you won't be disappointed!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Candidly Clineby Kathryn OrmsbeeHarperCollins Children's Books HarperCollins Children's Fiction | Middle Grade Pub Date 09 Nov 2021Born in Paris Kentucky, Cline Alden was raised on her Gram’s favorite country music. She’s a girl with big dreams, as well as a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians’ workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom. But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies Candidly Clineby Kathryn OrmsbeeHarperCollins Children's Books HarperCollins Children's Fiction | Middle Grade Pub Date 09 Nov 2021Born in Paris Kentucky, Cline Alden was raised on her Gram’s favorite country music. She’s a girl with big dreams, as well as a heart full of song. When she finds out about a young musicians’ workshop a few towns over, Cline sweet-talks, saves, and maybe fibs her way into her first step toward musical stardom. But her big dreams never prepared her for the butterflies she feels surrounded by so many other talented kids especially Sylvie.As Cline learns to make music of her own she also starts to realize how much she’s holding back. But now, there’s a new song taking shape in her heart—if only she can find her voice and sing it.I give Candidly Cline three out of five stars!Happy Reading!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Shepard (Between-the-Shelves)

    4.5 starsThis is a totally queer, totally music driven middle grade novel and I am here for it. From the beginning, Cline knows that she likes other girls, but she's afraid to tell other people. What she finds, though, is that she feels like she can communicate it through song. Music gives her the confidence to be herself, and that's such a beautiful thing in a middle grade book.However, Cline also struggles with changing friendships because of her identity. There are discussions in here about r 4.5 starsThis is a totally queer, totally music driven middle grade novel and I am here for it. From the beginning, Cline knows that she likes other girls, but she's afraid to tell other people. What she finds, though, is that she feels like she can communicate it through song. Music gives her the confidence to be herself, and that's such a beautiful thing in a middle grade book.However, Cline also struggles with changing friendships because of her identity. There are discussions in here about religion, about finding yourself, about allowing yourself to be open with your friends. I loved Cline's journey of accepting herself, and her little butterflies for her new songwriting partner were adorable. Ormsbee's middle grade voice feels real and authentic, and I am so happy that this book exists.

  13. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi KoehlerIf I had to pitch this book in one sentence it would be this: Reminiscent of a Disney Channel Original feel-good movie about an aspiring singer-song writer letting nothing stand in her way who falls in love with her competition partner—but make it gay.All in all, this was a wonderful, well-rounded novel about friendships and the way they can change over time, financial troubles and helping hands, the importance of being yourself and Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Mimi KoehlerIf I had to pitch this book in one sentence it would be this: Reminiscent of a Disney Channel Original feel-good movie about an aspiring singer-song writer letting nothing stand in her way who falls in love with her competition partner—but make it gay.All in all, this was a wonderful, well-rounded novel about friendships and the way they can change over time, financial troubles and helping hands, the importance of being yourself and most of all, a tribute to music in all its magnificent ways.Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  14. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Cline will do anything to attend the singer/songwriter workshop in Lexington, even if that means sneaking behind her mom's back and paying it off on layaway. Like her namesake and so many other women of country, Cline and her Gram know that she's destined to make it big. Of course, with every big dream comes some roadblocks on the way-- fading friendships and tight money can be enough to break a girl's heart. Candidly Cline is a story of filled with joy, bravery, and shimmering determination. Cl Cline will do anything to attend the singer/songwriter workshop in Lexington, even if that means sneaking behind her mom's back and paying it off on layaway. Like her namesake and so many other women of country, Cline and her Gram know that she's destined to make it big. Of course, with every big dream comes some roadblocks on the way-- fading friendships and tight money can be enough to break a girl's heart. Candidly Cline is a story of filled with joy, bravery, and shimmering determination. Cline's journey of self-discovery plucked at my heartstrings like her trusty guitar: an uplifting and inspiring novel!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lizenbyl

    Candidly Cline is a book for middle-school age readers, as it brings forward the struggles of being a young teen-ager in a small community battling poverty, lack of opportunities close by, and a teen-agers trying to figure out her sexuality. Cline is very interested in music and specifically song-writing and performance. Cline is very driven and figures out a way to overcome many obstacles, and in the process learns a lot about herself along with learning that not being honest is not the best po Candidly Cline is a book for middle-school age readers, as it brings forward the struggles of being a young teen-ager in a small community battling poverty, lack of opportunities close by, and a teen-agers trying to figure out her sexuality. Cline is very interested in music and specifically song-writing and performance. Cline is very driven and figures out a way to overcome many obstacles, and in the process learns a lot about herself along with learning that not being honest is not the best policy.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Lintemuth

    Absolutely beautiful coming of age story that hit the perfect note on so many levels. I loved Cline and her growth arc throughout the story, her relationship with Gram reminded me so much of my own relationship with my grandmother..and the struggle of being young, in the closet, and struggling with who gets to know your story. I felt that on a soul level. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone and can't wait to have it in store. Absolutely beautiful coming of age story that hit the perfect note on so many levels. I loved Cline and her growth arc throughout the story, her relationship with Gram reminded me so much of my own relationship with my grandmother..and the struggle of being young, in the closet, and struggling with who gets to know your story. I felt that on a soul level. I absolutely recommend this book to everyone and can't wait to have it in store.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Guaranteed to make you want to burst into song--this book has a heart a mile wide and one of the most endearing, delightful tween girl characters I've ever read. A warm-hearted coming-of-age story full of complex threads about multigenerational family relationships, growing up just making ends meet, the many ways kids (and adults) relate to religion, and of course: music. I love this book so much, and I hope you do, too! Guaranteed to make you want to burst into song--this book has a heart a mile wide and one of the most endearing, delightful tween girl characters I've ever read. A warm-hearted coming-of-age story full of complex threads about multigenerational family relationships, growing up just making ends meet, the many ways kids (and adults) relate to religion, and of course: music. I love this book so much, and I hope you do, too!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    This could have been my childhood. The differences are, I didn't know I was gay that young, and I believe mustard based BBQ sauce is superior. This was beautifully done. What an amazing middlegrade book. I will be recommending this to all of the students who come through. Cline is a great protagonist, I love her love interest, and Gram is lovely. What a beautiful book. I love it!Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review. This could have been my childhood. The differences are, I didn't know I was gay that young, and I believe mustard based BBQ sauce is superior. This was beautifully done. What an amazing middlegrade book. I will be recommending this to all of the students who come through. Cline is a great protagonist, I love her love interest, and Gram is lovely. What a beautiful book. I love it!Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Halbur

    There is so much goodness in this 📚 This quote says it all. “It’s not my job to make anyone happy, though. It’s just my job to be me.” Best lesson for everyone! Thanks for sharing with #bookposse @Kathsby @HarperChildrens

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