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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Release: October 13, 2011

Source: Contest
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
Audition is only the second ever verse novel I’ve read. I am a novel person – always have been, always will be. So it took me a few pages to adjust to a new style of writing and a new format for reading. After a few mental adjustments, however, I was off and running.

And once I was, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. I am so, so happy that Kehoe chose to tell Sara’s story through verse. It fit perfectly.

Like a choreographer, Kehoe created a beautiful composition. The words took on a lyrical quality, each line a different step in the gorgeous dance. As I wound my way through Sara’s story, I could not help but imagine a graceful ballerina pirouetting and leaping across the stage.

Writing-wise, Audition was masterful. Character-wise, however, I was far less impressed.

Sara was an interesting main character to follow. For much of the novel, I couldn’t decide whether or not I liked her. She had a touch of naïveté that I found irksome and seemed to lack genuine dedication. Her drive to become a ballerina felt hollow, inspired not by her own love of dance but by the dreams of those around her. I wanted to grab Sara and shake some sense into her, to make her realize that she was her own person and needed to stand up for herself.

This frustration with Sara only continued as I ventured further into her story. Throughout the novel I kept finding myself growing annoyed with her and her decisions. Never quite enough to make me consider putting down the novel, but enough to exasperate me. As irksome as she was, I was intrigued by Sara’s story and the world of the ballet school. I was committed to seeing Sara through to the end of her journey, even if she made a few unsavory stops along the way.

And by unsavory stops, I mean Rem. I just did not understand that relationship. From the get go I didn’t trust or like Rem. And once he began hooking up with Sara, my opinion of him only worsened. I found him to be withdrawn, moody, and rude, three things I do not value in a guy – fictional or otherwise. I spent a lot of time wishing I could just step into the novel, pull Sara out of Rem’s apartment, and show her how much promise and strength she had on her own, without his destructive influence.

Personal feelings aside, I do understand why Kehoe put Rem and Sara together. Sara needed to experience that relationship in order to reach a certain point in her life. Being with him forced her to make some decisions that, while tough, were necessary to her finding herself.

At the end of it all, I found myself sufficiently pleased with the course the story ran and enchanted by the lovely prose. Sara never transformed into a character I loved. She did, however, become a character I could respect and above all, understand.

3 stars

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