Every Time You Hear That Song / Jenna Voris / Book Review


People will hear my accent and just assume I voted a certain way or that I'm uneducated or that I, like, accidentally endorsed a political insurrection on the internet.

Darren Purchase doesn't belong in this town. She's reminded of that every time she publishes an article in the school paper that people don't appreciate. She's reminded of that every long hour she works at the gas station up the road. She's reminded of that every time she listens to a Decklee Cassel song and dares to dream of escaping, of getting out just like Decklee did.

So when Darren finds out that country music legend Decklee Cassel has died, she can't help but tune in to the televised funeral. She's not the only one. Everyone wants to see what's inside Decklee's long-promised time capsule. Decklee hinted at the contents all her careers--the journals, the letters, the lyrics and never-released songs. So when the capsule turns out to be empty, everyone is devastated.

Until a radio broadcast lets fans know that the time capsule wasn't a ruse. It's real, and Decklee hid it away. It comes with generous prize money for whoever finds it first. They'll just need to see through Decklee's clues to know where.



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.


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.


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. Lost in Time

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! Name Confusion

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. Let-Down



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.


Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Date: April 2, 2024
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. Glad to hear this was a hit for you. I am a fan of character driven stories, so lack of plot or a weak plot never seems to bother me.

  2. Sounds like this was a really good one for you.

  3. aww... wonderful story.....
    Happy Easter

  4. Sounds good.

  5. This one sounds good ER! Wonderful review!

  6. It is a fun premise. And 10 stars? That alone makes me add this one to my own TBR list. :D

  7. Wow.. a 10 out of 10.. it must have been a pretty great book.

  8. Glad you enjoyed this, I like strong characters especially if the author allows us to understand them.

  9. "longing for home even when you know home can't give you what you need" Nice. Glad this was so good. 10/10

  10. When you say it then yes dual timelines are rather uncommon in YA. I wonder why

  11. Glad to hear you rated this a 10/10 story! Sounds like an intriguing read.

  12. I'm not a fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid and I don't read much YA so I don't think this book would be for me, but happy to hear you loved it so much!


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