Kids Program Resources :: State Library of Iowa

The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy.jpgKids All Iowa Reads Program Resources

The 2022 All Iowa Reads selection for kids is The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane by Kate O'Shaughnessy.

About the Book

Maybelle Lane is looking for her father, but on the road to Nashville she finds so much more: courage, brains, heart–and true friends.

Eleven-year-old Maybelle Lane collects sounds. She records the Louisiana crickets chirping, Momma strumming her guitar, their broken trailer door squeaking. But the crown jewel of her collection is a sound she didn’t collect herself: an old recording of her daddy’s warm-sunshine laugh, saved on an old phone’s voicemail. It’s the only thing she has of his, and the only thing she knows about him.

Until the day she hears that laugh–his laugh–pouring out of the car radio. Going against Momma’s wishes, Maybelle starts listening to her radio DJ daddy’s new show, drinking in every word like a plant leaning toward the sun. When he announces he’ll be the judge of a singing contest in Nashville, she signs up. What better way to meet than to stand before him and sing with all her heart?

But the road to Nashville is bumpy. Her starch-stiff neighbor Mrs. Boggs offers to drive her in her RV. And a bully of a boy from the trailer park hitches a ride, too. These are not the people May would have chosen to help her, but it turns out they’re searching for things as well. And the journey will mold them into the best kind of family–the kind you choose for yourself.

Book Discussion Questions

1. What elements on the road trip frame the story?

2. What was Maybelle Lane’s motivation for taking the road trip? Does her motivation change?

3. Would you like to read another book about Maybelle Lane?

4. Would you read another book by this author?

5. Who was your favorite character and why?

6. Would you go on a road trip with your neighbor? Why or why not?

7. What would you say are the major themes of this book?

8. Could you see this turned into a movie or TV show?

9. This has a lot to do with sounds and music, did it make you think of any specific songs?

10. Would you recommend this to a friend? What would you tell them about it?

About Author Kate O'Shaughnessy

Kate O'Shaughnessy web.jpgKate O'Shaughnessy writes middle grade fiction. She is a graduate of Yale University, a member of SCBWI, and is the events and outreach coordinator at Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center in Berkeley, California. When she’s not writing, you can find Kate in her garden, eating good food, hiking, and chronically mispronouncing words she’s read but never heard said aloud. Her debut novel, THE LONELY HEART OF MAYBELLE LANE, was published with Knopf Books for Young Readers in 2020. Kate currently lives in El Cerrito, California with her family. You can read more about her at and follow her on Twitter at @kloshaughnessy.

Reviews and Interviews

Reviews and interviews with Jennifer Longo and other information about What I Carry:

Praise for The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane:

  • “Maybelle Lane finds courage she didn’t know she had—and it’s contagious. A rich and rewarding debut.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

  • "Lyrical and full of heart, this road trip story gets to the core of what it means to create family, to be brave, and to accept the flaws of being human." —Publishers Weekly, starred review 

  • “There is healing in this book, and laughter, and grace, and surprising love. Don’t read it with a box of tissues—just cry, then smile and grow.” —Gary D. Schmidt, author of The Wednesday Wars, a Newbery Honor Winner

  • 2020 Indie Next Selection
  • 2021 Bank Street College Best Children’s Books of the Year
  • 2021 Northern California Book Award Nominee
  • 2022 All Iowa Reads Kids Selection
  • 2022 Kentucky Bluegrass Award Nominee
  • 2022 New Hampshire Great Stone Face Award Nominee
  • 2022 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Nominee
  • 2022 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Nominee
  • 2022-2023 Missouri Mark Twain Book Award Preliminary Nominee

Find Copies of The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane to Borrow

Find out which Iowa libraries have copies of The Lonely Heart of Maybelle Lane to borrow, or find out how to request sets for discussion groups.

Find in Iowa Libraries:

Find on Bridges: Iowa's eLibrary:

Multiple Copies for Discussion Groups:

  • For individuals: To request a discussion group book set, contact your local public library to arrange access.