The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy
Maybelle Lane uses a tape recorder as a journal. She records quiet sounds that other people don't notice, sounds that say a lot to Maybelle. Maybelle's momma is a musician and is about to go away on tour for one long month. Mrs. Boggs, a neighbor in the trailer park, will be watching Maybelle while her mother's away. But Mrs. Boggs doesn't realize that Maybelle has plans to travel from Louisiana to Nashville.
There's a singing contest in Nashville, and Maybelle not only entered but is determined to win. She hasn't sung for a long time, but she wants to impress the judges. One of them is her father, a man she's never met. A man she only recognizes by his laugh, which she heard on the radio one day, just by chance.
Maybelle's momma told her not to go looking for her dad because she'd only end up getting her heart broken. But when Maybelle listens to him on the radio, he sounds kind, and Maybelle already has a lot in common with him. She knows if she can make it to Nashville and meet him, he'll want to be involved in her life.
Mrs. Boggs is surprisingly eager to take Maybelle on a road trip. The trip is full of trouble and adventure, and even a stowaway! Maybelle learns a lot about herself and her travel companions along the way, but she can't stop worrying about what's at stake when she gets to Nashville.
This book was beautifully written and very touching. The details about sounds Maybelle noticed and recorded inspired me to start listening more than I typically do. I love the idea of keeping a journal of sounds, and I love the library activities this brings to mind! This book is great for middle grade readers and up, and I think it would be an excellent book club pick for small groups in classes.