Franny Callaghan feels invisible. With a missing mother only seen occasionally who speaks to the family through the closed door of her bedroom or the ensuite bathroom and a father and younger sister, who travel most of the time, home long enough to wash their underwear and re-pack before heading to the next competition so her sister can be an Olympic speed skater, Franny feels alone most of the time.
Franny’s brother died a few years before and is only seen in the photos on the wall. Her family hasn’t spoken of him since the day of his big funeral and all the news coverage of the tragic accident that killed eight members of the Ridgewood High School Orchestra and one of his teachers. And Franny Callaghan remains… just the awkward middle kid in a family that used to look like everyone else’s.
What if Franny just took off to go see her brother’s favorite band on the anniversary of his death? Maybe that would be the jolt her family so badly needed.
Headliner was an enjoyable read, one that pulls readers right into the complicated process of grief. It gets a little preachy at times and could have benefitted from a more accurate portrayal of a teenage girl and a slower, more deliberate ending where everything isn’t tied neatly in a bow all at once, but it is an emotional story that really makes readers, especially young ones, consider the nature of their problems.