Published October 13th 2015
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Claire and Ella and their friends are bound by ties so strong they seem unbreakable. Then the strange and handsome Orpheus strolls onto the beach, and he sings them all into an astonishing new understanding of themselves. Ella is caught the hardest, fastest, deepest—and Claire feels the pain of looking on.
Raw, emotional, lyrical, and funny, A Song for Ella Grey is a tale the joys, troubles, and desires of modern teens. It takes place in the ordinary streets of Tyneside and on the beautiful beaches of Northumberland. It’s a story of first love, a love song that draws on ancient mythical forces. A love that leads Ella, Orpheus, and Claire to the gates of Death and beyond.
A Song for Ella Grey is...trippy. I'm not sure there's a better way to put it. To be honest, I don't know how I A) finished it and B) understood more than half of it. I was confused more often than not, many paragraphs felt heavy and out of place, and I only stuck to it because I figured things will wrap up at the end. No luck.
This book is inspired by the (very) tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice. When Eurydice dies, Orpheus follows her to hell. He is told that he can take Eurydice with him, as long as he doesn't look at her until they are out underworld. Yes, you guessed it, Orpheus turns around when they are about to exit and his love is sent back. I'm telling you this because it isn't a spoiler. The author shares this story at the beginning of the book, as an author's note. Keeping this in mind, I was able to follow his story a little bit better but I still didn't get most of this retelling. The narrator is Ella's friend, Claire. She's in love with Ella (our Eurydice) so everything that happens with Orpheus is extra tragic. Claire is an unreliable narrator so this adds a little something special to the story.
I think I had a difficult time with this book because I wasn't familiar with David Almond's style. I'm not sure if I'll ever read another one of his books but definitely pick up this book if you're looking for a strange/unique reading experience.