Member Reviews

THOUGHTS

It has been a long, long time since I read a 10 out of 10 book for Gateway Reviews. Since summer 2022, in fact. This book won't be for everyone, but I adored these hard characters, these bristly women who dare to be ambitious when the world tells them they shouldn't be. And I appreciate the bittersweet sentimentality here, too--that longing for home even when you know home can't give you what you need.


PROS
Dual Timeline: A dual timeline is so very unusual in YA, and I really appreciate not just that Jenna Voris has opted for this mode of storytelling but that she uses it so well. Told both in the present, as Darren tries to track down Decklee's time capsule, and in flashbacks starting with a young runaway girl in 1963, this book hits all the right notes of bittersweet, regret, and big dreams.

Small Town Shout-Out: Darren Purchase might not be a girl meant to stay in a small town, but that doesn't mean she won't miss it. Darren loves her town in all the ways she can--her friends, her neighbors, and the quirks of knowing everybody and everybody knowing you. She and her mother are really close, too, and so the fact that Darren wants to break out, to leave these things behind so she can pursue her own dreams comes with a not insignificant amount of regret. What's best for her means leaving people and places behind that she'll miss.

Daring to Dream: I know a lot of people won't like Darren (and I'm not sure they're really meant to like Decklee). Darren has hard edges. She's ambitious, and she's prickly. And people don't like hard women who dare to want things, even in fiction. Darren might not get everything right, but that's part of being human. She wants big things from life--more than her small town can provide her. And she really wrestles with the implications of leaving her roots behind. Darren is bisexual, and she's not afraid of that... but she is afraid of what embracing this identity might mean in her rural American hometown. She knows how hard that can be--how impossible her happily-ever-after is if she stays. She sees all the negatives of the world that brought her up, and she's still sad to leave it behind. Because, as she says, there are great people in the South. There are people like her, like her mother, like her neighbors and her friends--just people being people, not caught up in cycles of bigotry and hate. She wrestles with the choice she knows she'll have to make when she leaves her hometown--give up her accent or keep it on, deny her roots or take on the burden of the assumptions the world will thrust on her. Darren loves her town, but her town doesn't have room for somebody like her. And that sucks. Because you shouldn't have to leave where you grew up just to be safe and whole and happy.


CONS
Lost in Time: Darren and Decklee both dream big, but reading Decklee's story, clawing her way up to stardom, felt kind of bittersweet. Because it feels like something that is, really, lost in history. It doesn't feel like the kind of thing that could happen to a poor girl from the rural South these days, no matter her aspirations, and that makes me sad. Times are changing. Opportunities change, too. Stories like Decklee's did happen... but I'm not sure they're happening anymore.

Name Confusion: Decklee's two closest (and, really, only) companions are Mickenlee and Markell, respectively. And these names are pretty similar. A few times, I had to go back and reorient myself because I had read the wrong name--and trust me when I say these characters really aren't interchangeable!

Let-Down: This story has a lot of build-up, and the payoff is all character, heart, and soul. The plot payoff isn't really something that exists. Don't get me wrong. There aren't loose ends. There are just disappointing ends (which may, in fact, be realistic). If you're looking for a fun sort of quest story, chasing down a lost time capsule, you'll get a bit of that. But that's not really the heart of the story here, so reader be warned.


Rating

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
10/10
Fans of Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game will like this new hunt for a legacy. Those who adored Taylor Jenkins Reid's The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will like this bittersweet dive into a larger-than-life star.

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Thank you so much for the ARC of this book! I was hesitant reading this book because it is a little outside of the genres I usually read and an author I'm not familiar with but I was super impressed! Loved all the characters and storyline. Definately a must read.

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Okay, so, not thrilled with that ending. Ugh. But that aside, this is a pretty remarkable book. Told in dual timelines with dual narrators, it’s a story about two queer, small town Southern girls, the life/love choices they make, and the music that influences their lives - one starting in the late 1960s, the other today.. (And there’s a twist I realized around the 70% mark - I felt so proud of myself).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

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4.25 stars

This book is marketed as "Dumplin'" meets "Daisy Jones & the Six", but it actually reminded me more of a YA "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" plus Swiftie Easter eggs. It's got dual timelines (my fave) and dual POV, following both Darren in 2024 and Decklee from 1963-2024.

17-year-old Darren is a girl who's always felt trapped by her small town and whose favorite musician's (Decklee Cassel) work is an escape for both her and her single mom. When Decklee, dies and leaves behind an unreleased album and a cash prize for her fans to find in a lyric-based scavenger hunt, Darren jumps at the chance. She heads off on a Southern roudtrip with her coworker and maybe-more, Kendall, leaving Mayberry (yes, the town is actually named Mayberry) for the first time.

Decklee (not her real name, but she is also from Mayberry), runs away from home to seek her fortunes in Memphis in 1963, determined to make a name for herself in country music. Once she begins songwriting with Mickenlee Hooper, all her dreams are within grasp. But as the girls grow closer and Decklee's stock rises, she realizes that getting everything she wants may require losing parts of herself.
Meanwhile, Darren and Kendall grow closer to each other and to the prize. Free from the confines of their small town, Darren realizes that some of the limits she feels there may be more self-imposed than anything, and that despite her role model's example, making it out of Mayberry and making it big don't guarantee happiness. 

I was expecting this to be a lighthearted romcom, but the ending had me crying my eyes out, so beware of that, but man. It was so good. Such a unique and emotional take on small towns and the expectations we set for ourselves and others, and the time capsule scavenger hunt was so fun. While some of the resolutions were more bittersweet than lighthearted, all of the characters felt very true to themselves, and I appreciated the different depictions of queerness through the decades. Thank you to Penguin Teen and the author for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review!

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I thought this was super cute :) I have been to Nashville and Memphis, so could get the feel, and it reminds you a little of Dolly Parton or any of the other classic country women who came from nothing. Interesting way to work in LGBTQ side as well. I was pretty impressed with myself when I figured out something before it was revealed ;) That's all the hint you get

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This book is the biggest hug you could ask for. It is beautiful and heartbreaking all at the same time and who doesn’t love a good road trip story.

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Thanks to Penguin Group and Jenna Voris, along with her lovely publisher for sending me an ARC through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This does not affect my thoughts about the book in any way.

Every Time You Hear That Song is a wonderful, queer Dumplin’ meets Silver Springs by Fleetwood Mac (this song officially belongs to this book!). A story told in between two POVs, that of Darren Purchase, a teen with a big dream from the small town of Mayberry, and the country pop icon Decklee Cassel following her rise to fame. Darren dreams of getting out of Mayberry and it’s why she’s followed the Decklee’s music and career her whole life, idolizing her for getting out and leaving everything behind. But when the singer passes on, she leaves a little quest; a hunt for a hidden time capsule: a memoir of her life, for a price that could get her out. And when Darren sets out to find it along with her friend Kendall, she soon uncovers more about Decklee’s legacy, one that will teach her to set out and tell her own story.

I didn’t expect to shed tears over reading such a bittersweet story for what I thought would be a cute romcom. I had fun from the back and forth between the two MCs’ POVs because it emphasized a story of love and loss and what it realistically means to be queer, career women over the decades. It talks about how beautiful, yet selfish love can be. The queer rep was definitely done justice because the feelings surrounding bisexual and lesbian women were articulated well. I got hooked on how emotional this story was, especially towards the end. It made me feel grief and regret as much as it made me laugh. It was not an ending I would’ve wanted for the characters, but it is certainly one sentimental conclusion to a story carrying so many feelings.

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Nothing could have prepared me for just how much I loved this book and how I read it at the exact right time in my life. Jenna Voris has captured something about growing up in a small town (and even more specifically for me, growing up in a small town in Arkansas), and looking to get out. Every place this book stopped had nostalgia for me, both geographically and metaphorically. On top of that, it’s full of yearning and heart and ambition and the character growth that comes with facing all of that. I cried while reading the very first chapter and I cried again throughout the book, both for the things I miss and for the things I’m so grateful I have. This book was a worthwhile read, and one that I think was necessary for me, and I’ll carry it with me just like I do the town I grew up in.

If it’s not already clear, this book checked a lot of boxes for me. It travels from Arkansas to Memphis, TN to Nashville, TN, to Mississippi, and back to Arkansas, and every stop along the way I found memories of my own to accompany those of Darren and Decklee. Both because of the sheer heart that Voris has written into this story and admittedly my own personal experiences, it felt like something I was experiencing along the way, even as I’m currently 5000 miles from home. It can be difficult to find genuine and heartfelt stories of queer teens in the South, even as that’s a reality that I’ve been living my entire life, and this book truly captures that.

EVERY TIME YOU HEAR THAT SONG is the story of two queer women (really teenagers, although Decklee grows up over the course of the book), on two similar paths from the same place. Both Darren and Decklee’s stories are what they are because of the people around them, and every supporting character is placed in the story with care and with purpose. The main characters screw up more than once, and we see them grow in the ways that they respond to friends and family actually trying to help them. Every little piece of the characters and their stories in this book seem to weave together to create an interconnected web that’s only visible once every strand is in place.

I could honestly talk for hours about this book and all the things I love about it. It’s a delightful exploration of queer identity, of fame and idols, of friendship and heartbreak, and the idea of home. I can’t say that I’ve always loved growing up and living in the South, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown to appreciate the complexity and the wealth of experience and people that live here, and I think that this book does a similar thing, forcing the characters to not just see the bleak vision of a small town they’ve conjured without also seeing the reality of where they are. It’s also just a really fun time to see Darren and Kendall trying to solve a scavenger hunt, and the lyricism in it all.

In short, I loved this book, and I can already tell it’s one of my favourites that I’ll read this year. It made me nostalgic and homesick in the best way possible, and I loved every moment I spent reading it. Basically, I can’t recommend it enough.

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In Every Time You Hear That Song, the author weaves a captivating narrative that seamlessly intertwines the lives of two women across decades, connected by the melodies of country music. Seventeen-year-old aspiring journalist Darren Purchase finds herself on an unexpected road trip with her coworker Kendall as they chase the clues of a scavenger hunt triggered by the unveiling of a country music legend's empty time capsule.
The characters are developed well, and the author navigates the intricacies of their emotions with sensitivity. The storytelling is immersive, with each chapter revealing layers of the characters' lives, dreams, and the price they paid for success.
While the scavenger hunt premise adds an element of excitement, the pacing occasionally falters, causing moments of disconnection between the past and present narratives. Despite this, the novel remains a compelling exploration of the sacrifices made in the pursuit of fame and the enduring impact of love across generations.
Every Time You Hear That Song is a poignant celebration of complicated women, authentic living, and the timeless allure of country music. The author delivers a heartfelt coming-of-age story that transcends its genre, leaving readers with a deeper appreciation for the enduring power of storytelling and the melodies that shape our lives.
Thank you to NetGalley, the author and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Absolutely everyone should read this book, immediately (if not sooner). The mystery of Decklee Cassel and Mickinlee Hooper and the time capsule and the new music and the road trip... Everything about this was heartfelt, intriguing, heartbreaking, and ultimately just perfect. Loved it.

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This is a “small town, big dreams” wishes come true! Beautifully written and constantly intriguing! This story is for lovers of Dolly Parton and those who have big-town dreams outside of Hollywood.

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thank you net galley for the arc. so this book was ok not my type of read but still cute.so this is about a teenage girl who go on a road trip to find her favorite counrty music singer.

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*I received a copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for this opportunity*

Decklee Cassel fought her way to the top, and nothing could stop her blind ambition. Starting off as a scrap of a girl in Memphis, Tennessee, Decklee becomes a beloved country music icon whose mysterious, post-death time capsule sparks a nationwide hunt.

Darren Purchase is desperate to escape her small hometown of Mayberry. An aspiring journalist and lifetime lover of Decklee’s music, Darren sets out with her unlikely companion to try to find the singer’s lost album– and the $3 million dollars that comes with it.

Both Decklee and Darren’s point of views were interesting, compelling, and complex– while I enjoyed Decklee’s story more, Darren’s own coming of age journey was heartwarming.

EVERY TIME YOU HEAR THAT SONG is a lightening-in-a-bottle story, one filled with love and longing and music that sings to your soul in all the best ways. The best way that I can think to describe this story, is a perfect YA mix of Daisy Jones and the Six with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and a little bit of Dolly Parton thrown in.

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Great book with fantastic use of dual POV and dual timeline. The writing style was perfect and it was a really solid book about finding yourself. I love how one's character was ambitious to a fault and paid the price for it because she refused to grow. You rarely see it in female character without it being weaponized by misogyny.

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I chose this book because it gave me “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” vibes and it didn’t disappoint me. I fell in love with Decklee almost instantaneously. She’s a great character. Okay, she’s not the greatest person, but who want a perfect person? I want a characters with flaws and she is that character. I love her so damn much!
I like Darren too and I like her journey with Kendall, those two are really cute together, but I fell in love with the complicated and a little toxic relationship between Decklee and Mickenlee. I enjoyed their relationship a little too much, but they touched my heart in a deep way. I don’t think I can ever be able to stop thinking about them.
I enjoyed the two storylines combined and how they intertwined. I love everything about this book, if I have to be honest, it’s the best book I read so far this year.

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"every time you hear that song" is a dual pov, dual timeline story about darren purchase, a girl from a small town in arkansas who dreams of getting out, and decklee cassel, a girl who got out of the same small town 60 years prior. darren has spent her whole life listening to decklee's music and learning everything she can about her, and when decklee passes away and her estate announces a scavenger hunt for a time capsule, a brand new, never before heard album and 3 million dollars. from decklee's pov, we see her rise to fame, her partnership with the mysterious mickenlee hooper, and the years leading up to the making of the unreleased album. i won't say much more because people who read this book deserve to be surprised as the story unfolds and we learn more about darren and decklee's lives, how they parallel each other and how they differ. this book is a small town romance, but it's so much more than that, too—it's about ambitious women who have dreams bigger than their towns, about how fame can corrupt even the best relationships, and how much a person sacrifices to get to the top. if you like small town romances, sapphic characters and want to read about a country star who can be best described as "dolly parton meets taylor swift but make her gay," then this book is definitely for you.

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Country musician legend Decklee Cassel is dead and her long awaited time capsule is set to be opened at her televised funeral. Said to contain letters and photos from throughout the singer’s illustrious career as well as a brand new album, the capsule is highly anticipated by the singer’s many fans including aspiring journalist, Darren Purchase. Darren is from the same small town as Decklee and just as desperate to escape it. When the time capsule turns out to be empty and a trail of clues are left instead, Darren seizes the opportunity to track down Decklee’s lost album and win the cash prize that could get her out of this town.

I really enjoyed this book! It is told in a dual timeline, alternating between following Decklee’s rise to fame and Darren following the clues post Decklee’s death. It read like a mystery and I enjoyed how different pieces were presented to us in the two timelines. The two stories were woven together very well. I enjoyed both perspectives but I did prefer the past timeline a little bit more. I liked diving into Decklee’s character behind her public persona. She was a very flawed character and it was interesting to see her life unfold.
Both of the main characters are queer- Decklee is a lesbian and Darren is bisexual!
Overall, I had a good time reading this and I would recommend it!

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Thank you so much to PENGUIN GROUP, Penguin Young Readers Group, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book early in exchange for an honest review.

Every Time You Hear That Song follows 17 year old Darren as she and her friend Kendall as they look for clues left behind by country legend Decklee Cassel in order to find the lost album and 3 million dollars.

I really enjoyed this book! I liked the relationship between Darren and Kendall as well as the hints we learned about how Decklee made it big back in the 70s. The twists were also crazy! I did not guess a single one of them.

I think Darren knowing what the clues and locations were immediately was a little unrealistic but it made the book fly by and led to all the twists at the end so I enjoyed it.

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An absolute love for me! This book had me guessing, heartbroken, and so excited with the new things added into the mystery.

Carla being Mickenlee in the end was such an amazing twist and perfect way to connect the past and present characters.

Character wise: I love seeing the comparisons between Darren and Decklee, seeing the potential and failure in their own respective relationships. Darren learning to appreciate the small life around her and not admire a star blindly is so refreshing and realistic to read!

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So… I’m not into country music or treasure hunts. But I kept hearing about this book and since I always want to know whether something is just hype I requested this book. I figured I would give it a chapter or two and come back to it later because I have a bunch of other arcs I’m already reading. Before I knew it I was halfway through and could not put it down. I couldn’t believe how fast I flew through that book. Decklee’s story was so riveting I just wanted more. It connects well to Darren, but Decklee’s life and actions had me thinking about her and her world. The love story and how we see pivotal points in her life felt like I was a fan who right there along side her. This book was awesome and I would tell everyone out there to read it. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc.

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