On the Way to Birdland


Frank Morelli’s follow up young adult novel was released on June 8, 2021. You can ORDER TODAY through Indiebound, Bookshop, Amazon, or wherever books are sold.

Self-proclaimed teenage philosopher, Cordell Wheaton, lives in a sleepy, southern town where nothing ever happens; not since his hero, jazz musician John Coltrane, left some seventy years earlier to “follow the sound.” Cordy’s life has been unraveling since the night his father and his brother, Travis, exploded on each other. The night Travis’s addiction transformed him from budding musician into something entirely different. The night Travis took his saxophone and disappeared.

When Cordy’s father falls ill, the sixteen-year-old vows to reunite the Wheaton family. He embarks on a modern-day odyssey with forty bucks in his pocket and a dream to find his brother and convince him to be Travis again—by taking him to a show at Birdland Jazz Club in New York City, and reminding him of the common bonds they share with their legendary hero. Cordy’s journey is soon haunted by ghostly visions, traumatic dreams, and disembodied voices that echo through his mind. He starts to wonder if the voices are those of the fates, guiding him toward his destiny—or if he’s losing his grip on reality.

“Engrossing story and sympathetic characters. Worth the trip.”


“With a haunting secret, a brave journey and fascinating characters, On the Way to Birdland will remind readers that when you take a giant step into the unfamiliar, you might just find yourself.” 

Joelle Charbonneau, New York Times Best Selling author of VERIFY and DISCLOSE

On the Way to Birdland is a work of tremendous heart.  It sings with the joys and pains of family, hope, and impossible dreams.  A must read for everyone trying to find their way back to what matters most.”


“Listening to and believing in our fears keeps away from a life we wish for. On the Way to Birdland shows us what’s possible when we listen to something else.”

Angelo Surmelis, author of THE DANGEROUS ART OF BLENDING IN

“With balance, beats, and rhythm, this heartfelt coming-of-age story is bridged together like a Coltrane riff under Frank Morelli’s skillful hand. ON THE WAY TO BIRDLAND and its cast of diverse, fully fleshed-out characters are now included among My Favorite Things.” 

Brenda Rufener, Author of SINCE WE LAST SPOKE and WHERE I LIVE

“A classic tale of choice and chance, with more twists than a Virginia mountain road, On the Way to Birdland is a guide to finding your true self by accepting that you are ‘completely destructible…desperate not to get destroyed.'” 

Valerie Nieman, author of TO THE BONES and BACKWATER (Fitzroy, 2022)

On The Way To Birdland is a musical riff put into words. Frank Morelli grapples with family relationships, the grip of addiction, fate versus destiny, and how we find our place in the world.”

Ann Campanella, author of MOTHERHOOD: LOST and FOUND and CELIAC MOM

Watch the Official ON THE WAY TO BIRDLAND Book Trailer!


Frank Morelli’s Playlist for On the Way to Birdland – School Library Journal TLT (6/14/21)

Local Author’s Latest Book Pays Tribute to Coltrane – High Point Enterprise (6/4/21)

High Point Novelist Teaches Young Adults in the Classroom – Winston Salem Journal (5/22/21)

Author Frank Morelli Reads from On the Way to Birdland – Winston Salem Journal (5/21/21)

Frank Morelli Reads from his Latest Young Adult Novel – Richmond Times Dispatch (5/21/21)

Small Press Release Preview – Entropy Magazine (4/1/2021)

Birdland Pictorial Tour of High Point, NC – Visit High Point (1/19/21)


“A touching story that celebrates the courage of taking chances.” 

–Vincent Dublado, recent 5-star review on YABC

“The most entertaining and heart-tugging story I’ve read in a long while. On the Way to Birdland is a valuable addition to any young adult library.”

–Lisa McCombs, recent 5-star review on Goodreads

“An introspective young main character who feels how most of us have felt in our lowest moments; it is deft, nuanced, and balanced.”

–Divine Zape, recent 5-star review on Reader’s Favorite

“Readers who love to dig deeper into the world around them, thought process, discovering more to life or simply enjoy tons of character depth are going to appreciate this one quite a bit.”

–Tonja, Bookworm for Kids, recent 5-star review on B&N.com

“The characters we meet along the way really made this book for me. From laugh out loud quips to real poignant moments, I fell in love with each one.”

–Amy, recent 5-star review on Goodreads

“This story was beautifully written. I love how personal and real the story felt, how it dealt with hard situations a lot of young adults face, and how it centered around the jazz music of John Coltrane.”

–LeighAnne, @ThatBookMom, recent 4-star review on Goodreads

WORLD PREMIERE – Facing the Music


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