Fiction, Humor, Illness, Loved-it, YA

[YA review] An Incredibly Funny, Yet Touching YA About Responsibility No Sad Songs by Frank Morelli

No Sad Songs is about a teen, shouldering way more than he’s supposed to. Gabe’s grandfather struggles with Alzheimer’s, and while seeing his grandfather lose his own self right there in front of him, that’s hardly the biggest of Gabe’s problems. Despite the tough situation he is in, Gabe displays incredible strength – and humor – in the sense of adversity. It’s a wonderful coming of age story.

5 Reasons To Read No Sad Songs

Gabe loves his grandfather, but hates his grandfather’s Alzheimer’s. Not only does it make him look like a fool in social situations (which is incredibly important to a teen), it’s also taking his grandfather from him. The sad thing is, that’s not all fate has in for Gabe. Or rather, that’s not all that’s going to be taken from him. As quite soon Gabe is orphaned, and has to deal with his grandfather’s illness all on his own… Well, actually, not quite – he might be better off on his own, but his long lost alcoholic uncle decides to tag along. And this is how Gabe becomes a parent to two adults who should be parenting him instead…

How Can It Be So Funny When It’s So Sad?

It’s hard to believe it, but No Sad Songs is one of the funniest books I’ve read this year so far. Its entertainment value is incredible. I will say that sometimes it goes over the top, and maybe the jokes are a little disrespectful, especially when it comes to Gabe’s grandfather, but at the same time – isn’t this what teen humor is about a lot? So it does paint a pretty convincing picture. And I’ve got to hand it to Frank Morelli – somehow No Sad Songs manages to be both a book about a hard, heavy topic, and yet – very funny and lighthearted at the same time. How can a book about death be a light, uplifting read? But it can! I truly don’t know. Maybe it’s in the way the main character deals with everything, but it’s just not depressing at all. It’s hilarious!

Well-Written And Relatable

The main character Gabe is someone you could be – he’s just that kind of down to earth character that’s easy to connect with. Even with all the feelings he’s dealing with, you won’t find overdramatized paragraphs – it’s all no nonsense, full of humor and just so natural. Even the wrong decisions sometime feel so right. That’s what a good book is all about.

It’s The Story Of Growing Up


Ultimately, growing up is heart-breaking for most of us, in one way or another. It was more heart-breaking for Gabe, which is why it’s very touching and you can’t walk away from this story just like that. And it’s pretty natural, too – all the teen mishaps, believing in cheap virtues, what’s cool and what’s not… Labeling things. Labeling yourself. And finding where the true virtues lie. I found this was very well done in this book – just shown, not told, not overexplained, or even explained at all. Just very natural!

Good Friends Do Tough Things

I loved the friendships in this book. They were realistic! The virtues were good. Good friends sometimes have to do the right thing, even if it’s hard, even if it makes you hate them, for a time. Because real friends know what you truly need, and they prioritize that above what you want.

The Importance Of #SelfCare

This is a story about a really, really responsible and kind teen who is dealing with way more than he should have on his plate. And while he’s coping, he doesn’t know that he can’t just keep going like this. The book stresses the importance of not just caring for others, but also caring for yourself, cause one does not run on an infinite battery. And if you don’t remember to take care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for others for long.


No Sad Songs is a truly wonderful book. I’m incredibly happy I could read it. It’s strong, full of humor and compassion. And also, it deals with two tough subjects – dementia and lonely, overworked, abandoned teens. Dementia is an incredibly sad topic, but it’s even sadder to think of the teens – their life is only starting. This kind of story may be true for a lot of unfortunate kids – ones without parents, or with parents that are unable to care for them, or even themselves. So if you’re lucky to not be one of them – you should read this story to know there are others and value what you have. And also know when to help!

Other Books You Might Like

It was both hard and easy finding similar books – cause it’s easy to find a book that matches at least one quality of No Sad Songs, but not all of them. So I picked these four. You May Already Be a Winner is a borderling MG/YA book about an unfortunate teen whose parents are really pretty much good for nothing and she has to deal with so much. It’s a good book and you can read the review hereThe Finding of Martha Lost is actually not a book I enjoyed, as it was a little bit too naive for my taste, but you might like it. It also features an orphaned teen who is surviving in a way nobody of her age ever should, and she also happens to be very responsible – just like Gabe. Read the review hereMiranda and Caliban is very, very different from these stories, as it’s a sort of ‘spin off’ to Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, but it’s got the tough childhood bit in common with these, and also caring for another when you’re still a child yourself. Read the review here. And, Elizabeth is missing is not about a child, but rather a lady with Alzheimer’s, and it’s a very touching account of this illness from the affected person’s perspective. Read my review here.

You May Already Be a Winner   The Finding of Martha Lost   Miranda and Caliban   Elizabeth Is Missing

I thank the author for giving me a copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. You can buy the book here at Book Depository and buying using this link supports the blog.

Have you read No Sad Songs, or any other book dealing with the subjects of Alzheimer’s and abandoned teens? And can you picture humor in this sort of circumstance?

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3 years ago

I read the review of this book on Marie’s blog too and I am glad you both liked this book
I like the stories involving around strong family relationships and this seems like a book that I would enjoy.
Definitely adding this to my TBR. Lovely review

3 years ago

Ha. You totally sold this to me. Awesome review.

3 years ago

I have to put this book on my wishlist ASAP! I never read a book about Alzheimer but I can see the use of humor in this circumstance, because it’s a way to cope, and this is one of the reasons I want to read this book! The other ones are all in your review, that was really good! 🙂

Paul Liadis
3 years ago

This one sounds right up my alley, to be honest.

Rosie Amber
3 years ago

What a great review and set of reasons to add this book to my TBR list. Thank you.

Brian Joseph
3 years ago

Great review. The book also sounds very good. Stories can be both very sad and very funny. I think that this is also true of life. I think that great fiction often reflects life.

3 years ago

This sounds lovely! I didn’t know it existed until now, so thank you for that!

Do You Dog-ear?

Laura Thomas
3 years ago

Another book I might never have given a chance accept for your wonderful review!

Cam @ Camillea Reads
3 years ago

This book really stays with you. I love the author’s prose, like you said, it’s very down to earth and just so sad. Even I was surprised with how well Frank Morelli was able to write it so smoothly! Great review!

Jenn @ Bound to Writing

This truly sounds amazing. Your reasons totally sold me on reading this book. Great review!

Lydia Tewkesbury
3 years ago

I’m really interested in reading this one. Having caring responsibilities is a reality for a lot of teens, but it’s not something we ever really see represented in YA.

Marty Brown
Marty Brown
3 years ago

What a delightful, and spot-on review of Frank Morelli’s excellent new novel,”No Sad Songs,” Evelina! Just finishing it now, and do not want it to end. This really is a heartfelt, yet humorous, story, with something of value for everyone. I can’t recommend this wonderful read more highly: ☆☆☆☆☆!

3 years ago

I’m so ready to read this book.
Gabe sounds like a really cool character.
Also because my Grandfather also had a similar disease but I mean I wasn’t an orphan nor did I have to take care of one of my drunk uncle but it sounds like a really fun and sad book.
Awesome review!

Stephanie Jane
3 years ago

This book sounds really powerful and I think sometimes approaching such a subject with humour can make even stronger than a serious novel might.
I was reminded of The Woman At 1000 Degrees which I recently read. It explores the physical problems of extreme old age and its elderly protagonist is very witty and funny despite being practically bedridden.

Rachel @The Readers Den

I appreciate it when an author tempers sad with humor. Wonderful review! 🙂

Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books

I am so glad to hear you enjoyed this book 🙂 I have to admit, with a topic like that, I didn’t expect this book to be fun, but it really was, too. I love the light tone of it all and how, even with intense moments, it still also managed to make me smile a lot 🙂 and yes to the friendships there, they were my favorite part for sure, I loved how realistic they were and, just how John didn’t take the main character’s bulls*** or anything hahahaha I loved him so much 🙂
Great review!! 🙂 x

3 years ago

Oh my, what a lovely read this sounds like. The humour, compassion and how the author balances it all sounds so spot on!

Frank Morelli
3 years ago

Thanks for the kind words, Marie. Hey, if anyone’s interested in hearing me discuss No Sad Songs with a NYT bestselling author (Charlie Lovett) and hear me read from the novel, please check out my interview on the new podcast INSIDE THE WRITER’S STUDIO ( Enjoy!

3 years ago

I’ve been eyeing this book for so long and am glad it’s getting some amazing reviews because the theme of the story does sound like something I would absolutely love. Alzheimer’s, or any disease for that matter, is a strong theme that needs to be incorporated more and more into YAs and it’s great to come across books that are doing exactly that. Coming of age stories are my personal favourites when it comes to contemporaries and seems like Gabe would win my heart instantly, haha 😀 Plus, it had humorous aspects while dealing with such serious and kinda sad… Read more »

Darque Dreamer
3 years ago

Another one I may have to add! <3

Darque Dreamer
3 years ago

Will do! <3

Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

Happy and sad? Love it! I am always wary of YA now, I’ve become so much pickier about what I enjoy but this sounds like it could be a good read. It’s emotional but still interesting and fun. It tackles serious stuff but still has some fun with it it seems. I will add to my TBR. Great review.

Cee Arr
3 years ago

Maybe I’m just over-tired, but this review is all the feels. All of them. *Adds book to TBR*


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