By Sierra Maciorowski

Lyrics are meant to relate to people, and most people can relate to songs through their lyrics. In fact, most lyrics tend to follow only a few major topics, like love, heartbreak, questioning life, and losing loved ones.

While many people can connect to at least a few of those topics, Calle Smith connects on a much deeper level than most. She lives by her own soundtrack, written down in her song journal, where she records the memories that fill her head as she hears songs. This song journal is the only thing that remains constant in her ever-changing life, and remains the solid building block of her hectic life. After moving from place to place, and living in twelve different towns over the course of eight years, Calle still doesn’t truly understand why her mother is always on the move.

In her new home, Andreas Bay, Calle discovers that she can’t avoid friendship forever, and she might have a chance to have a meaningful life, if she can ever turn off her never-ending playlist and open her heart to the world. When she discovers an old letter addressed to her from her absent father, who abandoned her when she was a baby, she begins to wonder about her mother’s logic, and her own past.

Songs for a Teenage Nomad, written by high school drama and English teacher Kim Culbertson, is an unusual book, considering the fact that most teen novels tend to lean towards the supernatural and unlikely romances that make up series like The Twilight Saga and House of Night. Unlike those now-common ideas, Culbertson’s book manages to capture both total realism and a character with extreme quirks, which still manage to be entirely realistic. Throughout the story, Culbertson explores the ways that music can shape ideas and life in general, and questions many social norms. While not a New York Times bestseller or piece of extraordinary “literature,” Songs for a Teenage Nomad solidly passes on its intended message: that conforming isn’t always the best option, and our little quirks are the most important things that make up who we are.