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Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane is a sound collector. She records the Louisiana crickets chirping, Momma strumming her guitar, their broken trailer door swinging half-shut. But the crown jewel of her collection is one she didn’t take herself: an old recording of her daddy’s warm, sunshine laugh. It’s the only thing she has of his, the only thing she knows about him.
Until one day, she hears that laugh—his laugh—pouring out of the car radio on a new show broadcasting out of Nashville. Going against Momma’s wishes, Maybelle starts listening in and learning all about her radio DJ daddy. He loves Hank Williams, Jr. and rescues injured raccoon kits in his spare time. He’s everything she’s ever dreamed… now if only she had a way to meet him. So when he announces he’ll be the judge of a singing contest in Nashville, she can’t help but sign up as a contestant.
But she’s not excited, she’s terrified. She collects sounds, she doesn’t make them. It’s not that her voice is bad—Momma always said it was lovely enough to make the angels cry—it’s that she’s afraid to use it. It doesn’t help that the only way to reach Nashville is road-tripping in a run-down RV with her hard-hearted neighbor, Mrs. Boggs, and her troublemaking classmate Tommy O’Brien, who stowed away in the RV bathroom so he could come, too—never mind he has no idea where they were going. But it will all be worth it in the end, because her daddy is the one who will help her overcome her fears and find her voice—she’s sure of it.
THE LONELY HEART OF MAYBELLE LANE is a 52,000-word middle grade novel that explores the power and magic of language and song, as well as the bittersweet joy of discovering your found family. It will appeal to fans of Kate DiCamillo and Sheila Turnage’s THREE TIMES LUCKY. I am a member of SCBWI and this is my first novel. Thank you for your consideration.