Review: Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee

Candidly Cline by Kathryn Ormsbee

Candidly Cline
Kathryn Ormsbee
Published November 9, 2021

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Candidly Cline

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

Candidly Cline on Goodreads

My Review

I tend to love stories about musicians, so I was intrigued when I heard about CANDIDLY CLINE. She’s a songwriter, singer, and guitarist, and she’s learning how music can give voice to things that are hard to say other ways.

Cline pretty much had me at hello. She’s sure in her identity. She also loves her mom and grandmother, who all live together. I loved the bold way she handles her conflict with Sylvie and the way their relationship develops after that rocky beginning.

As she figures out how to tell her mom how important music is to her and to speak about her identity, Cline finds allies, friends and mentors, sometimes in unlikely places. When a church event leaves Cline feeling judged and isolated, a woman she knows from the same church comforts Cline and tells her the way she was treated is wrong, and that it isn’t in line with what all Christians believe. I loved that even though Cline’s church experiences aren’t the center of the story, CANDIDLY CLINE made space for the fact that people observe faith in different ways. Some of those caused her a lot of hurt, but other ways made her feel loved and valued. I’m really glad that got explored on the page a bit in this book.

I also liked Cline’s complicated relationship with her mom. She knows her mom loves and supports her, but she feels like this huge part of who she is (her music) will never be acceptable to her mom. After she learns more about her mom’s history and the pressures she’s currently facing, she begins to realize that it’s not as simple as her mom disapproving of her. I liked that her relationship with her mom wasn’t as simple as her mom wanting something different for her life. It had a lot of layers, and those were presented gently and without dominating the story.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book, and I think fans of BREATHING UNDERWATER by Sarah Allen or HURRICANE SEASON by Nicole Melleby will enjoy this book.

Candidly Cline on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Cline is a lesbian. Her grandmother has Alzheimer’s. Her mom is a single mom.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Mild profanity used only once.

Romance/Sexual Content
Cline wonders what it would be like to kiss another girl. A girl kisses a girl on the cheek.

Spiritual Content
Cline visits church with her friend. She feels uncomfortable with some of the language about “the lost”. She wonders if her Christian friend views her as somehow lesser because she doesn’t believe in God/Jesus. The pastor preaches that same-sex attraction is a sin. However, another church member says she believes God loves everyone and has made them to be who they are.

Violent Content

Drug Content

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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