Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel


Wabanaki Blues by Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel
The Wabanaki Trilogy Book 1
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Genre: young adult, suspense, contemporary
Length: Full Length (323 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

“Some days you appreciate the dead; others, you don’t dare think about them.”

These are the words of Mona Lisa LaPierre, teen blues musician, also known as the girl who never smiles. When her out-of-touch parents send her to the New Hampshire boondocks to stay with Grumps, her reclusive grandfather, Mona is not exactly thrilled. She nevertheless slings her beloved guitar, Rosalita, over her shoulder, says goodbye to Beetle, the oblivious boy she adores and sets out to meet her destiny. Destiny pops up in various forms: a blonde bear name Marilynn with a fondness for bananas, a fellow musician named Del, and a green-flamed motorcycle that was last seen racing away from her high school the day a girl from her school named Mia Delaney disappeared eighteen years ago.

Mona’s search for Mia’s murderer becomes a quest for identity, love, and meaning. She is guided along the way by Grumps and her dead Grandmother, Bilki, whose spirit speaks to her in moments of need. Mona’s amazing journey is enriched by Native American traditions, a passion for music and art, and her growing realization that to achieve what is most important in her life, she must sacrifice what she most loves. This is the first book in the Wabanaki Trilogy. Each of these books contains a terrestrial and a celestial mystery that helps Mona find her place in the universe.

Wabanaki Blues is an entertaining introduction to what I think will be an interesting series. It’s part coming of age and discovering who you are and where you’ve come from sort of book, and part mystery.

The story is told in the first person through the main character Mona Lisa LaPierre, who is also known as the girl who never smiles. At the beginning of the story it’s easy to see why. She seems somewhat of a tortured soul whose parents leave her with her grandfather for the summer. What starts off as a negative thing for Mona, it does in fact become a turning point for her. It’s through her adventure there that she grows as a person, and the author did a wonderful job allowing us to be part of Mona’s journey.

I really enjoyed learning about all the Native American traditions that the author weaved into the story. The dialogue is natural sounding and entertaining. One of my favorite characters in this story was Grumps, Mona’s grandfather. He too seemed to change and evolve over the span of this story.

The pacing is fast and you find yourself turning the pages to find out what happens next. The mystery is draws you more as the story progresses.

Overall, it’s a fine debut and I think young adults who are looking for something besides the usual dystopia novels, would find this a good pick.


  1. this book has all the makings of a good yarn: a restless blues-picking girl, several sets of deliciously clueless adults, a ghost, a witch, a mystical cabin in the deep woods, a wise grandpa, a romance and a murder mystery. Mona explores her native american heritage, plays a mea guitar to win the boy she likes, and solves a mystery while trying ti keep herself alive in the book’s suspenseful finale. A great read!

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