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Save Me, Kurt Cobain
Cover of Save Me, Kurt Cobain
Save Me, Kurt Cobain
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What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain was not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.“Utterly gorgeous....
What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain was not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.“Utterly gorgeous....
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Description-

  • What if you discovered that Kurt Cobain was not only alive, but might be your real father? This nuanced and bittersweet YA debut will keep you guessing until the end.

    Utterly gorgeous. Mesmerizing. Hypnotic. I love this book.” —Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places  
     
     
    Nico Cavan has been adrift since her mother vanished when she was four—maternal abandonment isn’t exactly something you can just get over. Staying invisible at school is how she copes—that and listening to alt music and summoning spirits on the Ouija board with her best friend and coconspirator in sarcasm, Obe. But when a chance discovery opens a window onto her mom’s wild past, it sparks an idea in her brain that takes hold and won’t let go.

    On a ferry departing Seattle, Nico encounters a slight blond guy with piercing blue eyes wearing a hooded jacket. Something in her heart tells her that this feeling she has might actually be the truth, so she follows him to a remote cabin in the Pacific Northwest. When she is stranded there by a winter storm, fear and darkness collide, and the only one who can save Nico might just be herself.

Excerpts-

  • From the book CHAPTER 1

    “ABOUT A GIRL”

    The day my mother walked away, the snowdrops had just appeared. I never saw them nudging through the ground. They turned up each February, fully formed, standing there like unexpected guests. I thought the tiny white flowers looked like fairy shower caps, drooping off their thread-thin stalks. I was four. I remember touching a petal with my finger. It felt like a soft lower lip.

    My mother had picked three from the backyard of the house we rented in downtown Victoria, which wasn’t much: a slab of concrete, two lawn chairs, a composter, and those snowdrops. She turned to me and said, “I’m going away. But I’ll be back before these flowers wilt.” She pointed to the Mason jar that held the three snowdrops. It sat on our Formica kitchen table, which was scuffed white with a faded print of black clovers.

    “Can you remember that, Nicola?” she asked. Her voice was calm, more so than usual. She had ruler-straight bangs, a long, delicate nose. There was a thin gap between her front teeth that I imagined you could slide a dime through. My mother, Annalee, was as beautiful as Rose Red in my book of fairy tales. Her nickname for me was Little Early, which I assumed was because I always woke her up.

    “I can remember,” I told her. She said my name with a sigh. Ni-co-lah.

    On Sesame Street a girl in a cartoon remembered her shopping list—a loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter—all the way to the store. Her mother let her go alone. I decided I could remember one thing: my mother would be back before the flowers wilted.

    She hugged me and left me sitting at the kitchen table. I remember feeling her long hair, velvet soft and silky. My father, Verne, must have been at his security job at the mall. That’s not important to this memory.

    What’s important is this: each day I sat at that table gripping my blue cup of milk as my father bumbled around making toast or slicing bananas. I watched the flowers fade and wither, and by day three the stalks were bald and dead, the petals scattered on the table.

    From then on, I knew two things: I would never, ever believe anyone, and I would never again be called Nicola.

    The year she disappeared was 1996. Kurt Cobain was already dead, supposedly having committed suicide two years earlier. Of course, I didn’t realize the significance of that event back then. I couldn’t even brush my own teeth yet, let alone mourn for a man I didn’t know: the man who stole the world.



    It would be easy to assume that “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was the first Nirvana song I ever heard. It wasn’t. It was “Dive,” from a Sub Pop compilation called The Grunge Years. My friend Obe, who could enter thrifting as an Olympic sport, bought a secondhand copy and played it for me. The next Nirvana song I heard was “Sliver,” the one where Kurt Cobain sings about a kid having dinner at his grandparents’ house who wants Grandma to take him home. I remember having this idea whap me in the face like a tree branch: if we met, Kurt Cobain would understand me. He was slight and blond, like me, and I almost always wanted to flee dinners at my grandma Irene’s, which usually involved a slab of roast beef. It was Obe who introduced me to Nirvana, which is yet another reason to be glad that he exists.

    Byron Oberlin has been my best friend forever. No one else applied for the job. I’ve known him since I was four and have always called him Obe. We met when I lent him my socks. Verne had packed a spare pair in my little knapsack...

About the Author-

  • Jenny Manzer is a writer, an editor, and a former news reporter. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia, with her husband, son, and daughter. She loves music but never did see Nirvana play live.
     
    Follow @JennyManzer on Twitter.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2015
    Kurt Cobain may be the answer to the central mystery of 15-year-old Nico's life. When Nico was 4, her mother walked out the door and never returned. Now, the mental energy she spends ruminating on her mother's disappearance is matched only by her obsession with 1990s grunge music and the details of the life and death-by-suicide of the era's supreme icon. After finding a hidden box of her mother's CDs, Nico begins to wonder if there's more to her disappearance than she's imagined. Could Cobain be her real father? Could he still be alive? When, on a ferry ride from Seattle to Victoria, British Columbia, she spots a man with sparkling blue eyes, dirty blond hair, and a frail frame, she acts on impulse and jumps into his truck, ready to chase down the mystery of what really happened to both Cobain and her mother. The premise of Nico's slightly unhinged quest is compelling: what if Kurt Cobain was still alive, hiding out in the woods making art? Her angst and attitude feel authentic, and she possesses an impressive depth of '90s grunge knowledge. Readers will worry for Nico, even as they wonder if she could be onto something big. Unfortunately, in the end, the answers come too easily and too quickly to do justice to Nico's bizarre journey. A meandering exploration of abandonment and grief that switches tones too abruptly in its conclusion. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2016

    Gr 8 Up-The year is 2007, and 15-year-old Nico Cavan has led a dreary existence since the mysterious disappearance of her mother, Annalee, 11 years before. Nico is often left alone at home while her father works long hours for little pay; school is no better, with her classmates treating her like a pariah. The only things that give Nico comfort are hanging out with her best friend, Obe, and listening to her music: 1990s alternative rock and grunge. When Nico stumbles upon a hidden box of her mother's old CDs, she discovers she and Annalee shared an interest in the same bands and a spark is ignited within her. Determined to learn what happened to her mother once and for all, Nico sets out to visit her aunt in Seattle, which gives her the perfect opportunity to search for the answers she so desperately seeks. References to Nirvana and Kurt Cobain periodically feel forced, and although nonlinear storytelling is not a new device, Manzer stumbles in her use of it throughout the first few chapters. This sometimes causes more confusion than clarification but is offset somewhat by Manzer's pleasantly understated writing, which itself is underscored by occasional moments of raw emotion that will resonate strongly with teens. Nico's character is reckless but on the whole believable, both in her obsessions and insecurities, and while the resolution occurs a little too quickly, it is also something of a happy relief. VERDICT An additional purchase; good for libraries that have a need for angsty, character-driven stories.-Alea Perez, Westmont Public Library, IL

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Jennifer Niven, New York Times bestselling author of All the Bright Places "Utterly gorgeous. Mesmerizing. Hypnotic. I love this book."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Compelling."

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    Random House Children's Books
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