The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away by Frances O’Roark Dowell: Great, Honest Series–but With a Disappointing Ending

Marylin knows that, as a middle school cheerleader, she has certain obligations. She has to smile as she walks down the hall, be friends with the right people, and keep her manicure in tip-top shape. But Marylin is surprised to learn there are also rules about whom she’s allowed to like—and Benjamin, the student body president, is deemed unnacceptable. But maybe there is a way to convince the cheerleaders that her interest in Benjamin is for their own good—maybe she’ll pretend that she’s using him to get new cheerleading uniforms!

Kate, of course, finds this ludicrous. She is going to like whom she likes, thank you very much. And she just so happens to be spending more time than ever with Matthew Holler. But even a girl who marches to the beat of her own guitar strings can play the wrong notes—and are she and Matthew even playing the same song? She’s just not sure. So when Matthew tells Kate that the school’s Audio Lab needs funding from the student government, she decides to do what she can to help him get it.

But there isn’t enough money to go around, and it soon becomes clear that only one of the two girls can get her way. Ultimately, though, is it even her way? Or are both girls pushing for something they never really wanted in the first place?

Descriptions taken from Goodreads.

When I wandered on over to the children’s area of my library, I was really excited to find that Frances O’Roark Dowell had come out with another book in THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF GIRLS series. Growing up, my friend was obsessed with this series and passed it on to me. I had never known this was a trilogy, and so was not expecting this to be the end.

So I have some mixed feelings.

For one thing, I loved hearing from Marylin and Kate again.

For another thing, I felt like this was a really weak conclusion to this trilogy.

Over the years, I’ve seen my friends break apart and get back together and finally just grow apart. It’s crazy. So I wanted to see how this would end up for M and K. I think that Dowell did a brilliant job of portraying girls and how even though sometimes they have nothing in common, they can still be friends for the sake of being friends. Truthfully, the honesty to THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE was both nostalgic and bittersweet for me. Cheerleading seems to be a popular topic in this age anyway (no idea why) and I think it will go over really well with it’s age group, while girls like Kate will find someone to relate to.

For the first two books in this series, I was pretty happy. I have to say though, I truly feel like with THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE–Dowell disappointed me. I felt like things were going right along the way they should be going. I felt like Dowell’s honesty and the struggles between Marylin and Kate would work out somehow. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, but I didn’t want this. I wish that Marylin would grow up (I’ve always been Team Kate) and stand up to Mazie. I wish Kate would be more open to Marylin (I admit grudgingly) and that somehow, the two of them could continue on–together.

I guess that in the end, it works. They move on to a better, brighter future. With each other and without each other, which you’ll understand if you read this. They both get their own futures. Even through the sometimes unrealistic twists to the book, the downfall of THE SOUND OF YOUR VOICE for me was the ending. 2.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 192

Series: The Secret Language of Girls

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