Everyone should have something to rebel against.
Crank Wilson left his South Boston home at sixteen to start a punk band and burn out his rage at the world. Six years later, he’s still at odds with his father, a Boston cop, and doesn’t ever speak to his mother. The only relationship that really matters is with his younger brother, but watching out for Sean can be a full-time job. The one thing Crank wants in life is to be left the hell alone to write his music and drive his band to success.
Julia Thompson left a secret behind in Beijing that exploded into scandal in Washington, DC, threatening her father's career and dominating her family's life. Now, in her senior year at Harvard, she's haunted by a voice from her past and refuses to ever lose control of her emotions again, especially when it comes to a guy.
When Julia and Crank meet at an anti-war protest in Washington in the fall of 2002, the connection between them is so powerful it threatens to tear everything apart.
Just Remember to Breathe was the first book I read by Charles Seehan-Miles and it was pretty good but oh my God, A Song for Julia blew me away. In Just Remember to Breathe, we were introduced to Julia's sister Alex who briefly mentioned Julia and Crank in passing but in A Song for Julia, we get to see Crank and Julia's story. (Note: Just Remember to Breathe and A Song for Julia are part of a series though they definitely can be read as stand-alone novels and in any order).
“Is there any hope for a future between a pit rat and a Harvard girl?”
Julia Thompson, the eldest daughter of an ambassador, had always been one to keep others at arm length. Having a father in Foreign Service meant she had to move around all her life to many places; Brussels, Beijing, Washington DC, San Francisco and Boston to attend college at Harvard. We see that Julia is an emotionally vulnerable girl straight away; she's been duped by someone she thought she was in love with, she's been betrayed by her best friend and her parents are emotionally distant, especially her mother.
The closed-off Harvard girl meets the wild South Boston boy, Crank Wilson, who is a musician, at an anti-war protest. Crank has a whole load of emotional baggage as well, a teenage brother with Aspergers Syndrome, parents who pretend not to love each other but secretly do and a whole bunch of female groupies to last him a lifetime. At their very first meeting, it's a moment of lust/intrigue that sizzles between Crank and Julia but at the end of the night, they go their separate paths, believing that they would never see each other again until fate intervenes and they meet each other again in a totally crazy situation.
Julia is reluctant to let Crank close due to her inner demons of the past and the potential political scandal it could bring upon her wealthy family. Their relationship is full of angst (and I usually hate angst, Twilight - I'm looking at you!) but I loved Crank's resilience and despite Julia maintaining that she had no feelings towards him, I loved that he didn't give up and still cared for her, no matter what.
I like that this book didn't have disappearing parent syndrome and that on both Crank and Julia's behalf, both sets of parents are addressed. Julia's relationship (or lack thereof) has a huge impact on how Julia presents herself, especially following that scandal with a seemingly perfect British boy in Beijing, when she was only fourteen years old. Crank's relationship with his parents is a little different, his father is a tough South Boston cop with whom he spars with occasionally but has his best interests at heart while his mother is a totally different story.
One thing I also really appreciated about this novel is that the author touched on the topic of Aspergers Syndrome and you know how disabilities are rarely touched upon in novels, especially in the Young Adult/New Adult fiction world. Crank had an amazing relationship with his seventeen year old brother Sean, who suffers from Aspergers Syndrome and it was so incredibly sweet with how loving he was of his brother, despite his brother not being able to communicate back very well. We see Sean's inner struggles within in how he wants to be perceived to other people and I just loved the part in where Julia and Sean confided to each other about their issues - it was an incredibly poignant and touching moment - which blossomed into a genuine friendship between Julia and Sean.
This was a fantastic book and for anyone who is interested in reading a good book that deals with real issues, non-insta love and a whole lot of emotional baggage, this book is for you!
RATING: 4/5 stars.