Frank Morelli is the author of the young adult novels On the Way to Birdland and No Sad Songs, a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee and winner of an American Fiction Award for best coming-of-age story. His essays have been featured in The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, and Philadelphia Stories. Morelli lives in High Point, North Carolina with his inspiration, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds’ worth of dog.
On the Way to Birdland
Self-proclaimed teenage philosopher Cordell Wheaton lives in a sleepy, southern town where nothing ever happens; not since his hero, jazz musician John Coltrane, left some seventy years earlier to “follow the sound.” Cordy’s life has been unraveling since the night his father and his brother, Travis, exploded on each other. The night Travis’s addiction transformed him from budding musician into something entirely different. The night Travis took his saxophone and disappeared. When Cordy’s father falls ill, the sixteen-year-old vows to reunite the Wheaton family. He embarks on a modern-day odyssey with forty bucks in his pocket and a dream to find his brother and convince him to be Travis again—by taking him to a show at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, and reminding him of the common bonds they share with their legendary hero. Cordy’s journey is soon haunted by ghostly visions, traumatic dreams, and disembodied voices that echo through his mind. He starts to wonder if the voices are those of the fates, guiding him toward his destiny—or if he’s losing his grip on reality.
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