Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane collects sounds. She records the Louisiana crickets chirping, Momma strumming her guitar, their broken trailer door swinging half-shut. However, the crown jewel of her collection is a sound she didn’t collect herself: an old recording of her daddy’s warm, sunshine laugh, saved on an old phone’s voicemail. It’s the only thing she has of his, and the only thing she knows about him.
That is, until one day when she hears that laugh—his laugh—pouring out of the car radio. Going against Momma’s wishes, Maybelle starts listening to her radio DJ daddy’s new show religiously, taking in every detail of his personality like a plant leaning toward the sun. When he announces he’ll be the judge of a singing contest in Nashville, she signs up in secret, saving her worries about how she’ll get there—and what she’ll sing—for another day.
The problem: although Maybelle collects sounds, she doesn’t make them. It’s not that her voice is bad—Momma always says it’s the loveliest she’s ever heard—it’s that her bone-shaking stage fright keeps her from using it. But when a neighbor, Mrs. Boggs, offers to drive her to Nashville in her RV, Maybelle jumps at the opportunity. As their trip brings them closer to her father, Maybelle has to find her voice to tell her story— because the lights are on, the music is starting, and the world is ready for the lonely heart of Maybelle Lane.
THE LONELY HEART OF MAYBELLE LANE will appeal to readers who enjoyed the bittersweet tenderness of Kate DiCamillo’s RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE and the road trip fun of Ingrid Law’s SAVVY.