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Audition Hardcover – October 13, 2011
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"Sara's coming-of-age tale is one of passion and romance, colliding with her vision of whom she ultimately hopes to be. Her confused feelings are believably expressed and her attitudes toward her friends and the adults in her life will ring true, especially to...readers who are also involved in the performing arts."-School Library Journal
"The author, who has a performing and choreography background, stages Sara's dance world clearly through her spare verse, from ballet moves and body aches to studio drama... readers will empathize as she struggles with everything from sore shins to Rem's fickleness and whether she wants to continue dancing." - Publisher's Weekly
"Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones will enjoy this cautionary, detail-oriented look at the backstage world of the ballet and cheer for Sara as she finally makes her own decisions about her commitment to dance and her future." - Booklist
"...the pages turn quickly once the reader gets into the rhythm of the words and Sara's story. Kehoe can turn an evocative phrase, like the way she describes the "encrusted hairspray" of the dancer, or the minimalist way in which she describes a dancer's eating disorder..." -Huffington Post
About the Author
Stasia Ward Kehoe has freelanced for several publishing companies. A former dancer and co-founder of a children's theater company, she continues to choreograph and teach writing and theatre arts to young people. She lives in Washington. Visit her online at stasiawardkehoe.com.
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Audition is Stasia Ward Kehoe's debut and is a novel in verse. This is only the second novel I've read in this writing style, after Lisa Schroeder's The Day Before. I really like this poetic style of writing; it is to the point and quickly gets to the heart of the story. The writing says so much with such few words and is emotionally satisfying and fast to read. Audition gives an interesting glimpse into the life of a dancer, and shows how unglamorous and challenging things are behind the scenes. Though there is a lot of dancer terminology of interest to those knowledgeable of this life or have always wanted to learn more, the story is more of a coming of age that anyone can relate to.
Sara struggles with keeping up with the more experienced dancers as she juggles her daily dance classes with the demands of high school and college prep. She seems more mature than other girls her age since she is living away from home and living her dream while embarking on her first relationship. But she does have insecurities and has some errors in judgments along the way as she tries to find her path. I liked her strength and perseverance and found her an engaging main character. Her relationship with the elusive Rem is more mature and pushed more boundaries than usually found in YA books.
In the background of the world of competitive dance we see the dark side including eating disorders, competition, jealousy, dancing through injuries and the demand to always put dance first in your life. It is interesting to see the dedication to this life and what it takes to succeed, and the normal everyday high school experiences you must leave behind.
Audition is an intriguing coming of age about finding your way and gaining the courage to make choices in life. The creative backdrop of ballet gives a new fascinating dimension to the story that sets it apart. I highly recommend this contemporary debut.
The scholarship to Jersey Ballet so she can become a better ballerina is supposed to be a dream come true for small-town Vermont girl Sara, but it's not turning out to be so wonderful. The other ballerinas with their sleek techniques and perfect movement make her feel inadequate and it isn't easy to juggle schoolwork with all the hours spent practicing at the studio. Miles away from her friends and family, her only comfort is her illicit relationship with Remington, a combination student/choreographer/teacher six years older than her. She's infatuated and creates wonderful dances with him, but is dancing her dream anymore? Could she have a new dream now?
Sara's character arc is a fulfilling one and the novel's style communicate her loneliness, feelings of inadequacy, and other such emotions perfectly. The choice to write it in verse was a good one; it would not have been such a memorable novel if written in prose like most of the novel I read are. I felt bad for her because of how lonely she was and missed being at home, but she could be so frustrating! I nearly screamed at her multiple times about how bad Rem was for her, but it took her until nearly the end to realize it. It was all part of her character growth and self-acceptance, I know, but that doesn't make it not frustrating.
Audition is a slow-burning, character-driven kind of novel. Seemingly unremarkable and perhaps boring at first, it slowly warms up until the realization comes that hey, this is really good! Depending on how much one likes novels written in verse and such slow-burn novels, this can be a quick read or a very slow one. For me, it was quick; though there were six days between me starting the novel and finishing it, I read it for only three of those days and got through large chunks at a time, as large as two-hundred pages at once, because I could not put it own. I just had to see when Sara would realize enough was enough with Rem.
A lot of my friends are unimpressed by verse novels or don't care to read them because it's not their style. For those, I recommend looking for a library copy or online excerpt to try it out and see if this will be one they might like. If you're someone that can adapt to any style for the sake of a good story with a compelling heroine and, give Audition a second look. Also recommended if you want to learn more about the grueling world of ballet (and considering I want to learn more about dancing for an idea I have on hold, this was a huge help).