When it Drops – Children’s Book Week Review

When it Drops is listed on the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Notables 2021 list for Book of the Year: Older Readers. It is recommended for readers aged 13 to 18 years.

Abstract

Sixteen-year-old songwriter and aspiring social outcast Caleb Clifford fills his world with music, but – like most things – keeps his songs to himself. That is until his little brother leaks Caleb’s most personal track online; a track that’s quite obviously about his secret crush. Having his innermost feelings (accompanied by a hectic bassline) go viral is not Caleb’s idea of a good time. But is this the end of everything, or the start?

Review

I bought this book for one of my daughters in May 2020. As soon as she had finished reading it, I read it. And I loved it! I laughed, cried and cringed my way through it.

The protagonist of the story is Caleb Clifford (aka Button or Butt-face), a quiet, socially awkward, wiry, uncoordinated, gangly and ‘not-cool’ sixteen year old. He is also honest, creative and a lover of music – listening to it, writing it and producing it. Caleb is a Year 10 student at Riverview High, where he is having a miserable time. His best (and only) friend is Miralee Kahn, a small, double bass player who talks non-stop. Miralee does all the talking so Caleb doesn’t need to! 

Caleb has an older sister, Rachel, who is confident, supportive and loving. He has a younger brother, Nat, who thinks he’s cool but is more of a doofus. Caleb lost his dad to cancer 12 months earlier and is still grieving his loss. Caleb’s mum, Monica, is still sad and broken over her husband’s death.

Caleb is thrown into the spotlight when one of his songs ‘drops’. The song is about Ella Westlake, the girl he has had a long standing crush on and the reason he attends the awful Riverview High. Suddenly he has to deal with first gigs and the fickle music industry, as well as school, family, the death of his father and awkward silences. Not surprisingly, he finds himself listening to Turbulence by Jake Townsend frequently to help make himself feel better!

Caleb’s journey from zero to hero is a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows, filled with humour (I laughed out loud on more than one occasion) and tears and love. It was a journey I enjoyed being part of and I was completely on Caleb’s side throughout. Caleb was very likeable and easy to relate to. A great story!

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Author Alex Dyson

About the Author

After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Creative Writing degree, Alex Dyson became a co-host of the national triple j breakfast show when he was twenty one. This is Alex Dyson’s debut novel and was inspired by the school-aged artists he interviewed while at triple j.