Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Published: 10-13-2011 by Viking Juvenile
Get the book: Amazon
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?
Design – Kate Renner Photos – Gabriella Revere Rating – 2/5
I don’t like this cover. I dislike covers where people are kissing or almost kissing. This cover makes it seem like Sara’s relationship with Remington is the main plot-point, and I think the main plot-point is Sara’s relationship with herself – her self-esteem and her uncertainty, her attempts to not completely crumble under pressure. I do really like the font the title is in and how it’s the same deep red as the actual book. I also like how the corner with the characters in it is darker than the rest of the cover, because this is how I see Sara’s relationship with Remington – as something in the shadows, hidden and unsure. I think the look on the guy’s face is perfect. It’s exactly how I think Remington would look at Sam – full of confidence and cockiness, while Sara gazes back as if she’s not really in the same moment. I think I like the bits of text on the cover, but I don’t like the blue color or the way the words are placed around the couple.
I have no idea how I completely missed the fact that this was a novel written in verse, but I did somehow. I wish that this book had focused solely on Sara’s thoughts and feelings of inadequacy and the pressure she was feeling from all sides. I didn’t like the parts about Remington and her budding sexuality. Ick. Although I do respect the author for going there and not making it into a graphic play by play.
- pressure – Every year, at least in my (admittedly limited) experience, there’s more and more pressure put on high schoolers. Pressure from your school to work harder, be in all AP classes, forget the PSATs being for juniors and SATs for seniors (like it was for your parents) – freshman take the PSATs now, and if you haven’t taken the SATs at least once before your senior year you’re so behind. “Oh, you’re 17 and you haven’t decided what sort of career to devote your life to yet? What’s wrong with you?” I really like how the amount of pressure Sara is experiencing is shown. Some may argue that a lot of it is pressure she’s putting on herself, but that’s reality for her. Sara, at only 17, is expected to decide whether or not she wants to do ballet for the rest of her foreseeable future. Her dance instructors seem to only notice her flaws, her peers are her competition rather than her friends, and she feels she has no one to confide in as the pressure builds up.
- uncertainty – It’s very fitting that this book is called Audition, because it kind of reads like everything Sara does is an audition for a more permanent place – some foothold in the world. Sara is never quite sure where she stands, whether that’s among her fellow ballerinas, with Remington, or with her teachers – both at school and the dance academy. Nothing she’s doing ever really feels solid and permanent to Sara – she feels as though she’s trying out to be good enough, like she’s somehow always less than she should be, like she’s sprinting to catch up with where she already is. It all feels so true to how life toward the end of high school can feel. There’s a lot of change coming, lots of decisions that feel earth-shatteringly large and important, and a lot of people around you going through it too – people you compare yourself to because they’re your peers.
- writing – While I’m not a fan of novels in verse, I think this particular story did really benefit from that format. There’s so much of this story that’s all wound up in Sara’s thoughts and feelings that it felt right to be reading the book sort of through the filter of her thoughts. Everything can be assumed to be Sara’s opinion, without having to explicitly break in and say, I think this or I feel this. It makes it easier to see how Sara internalizes and interprets the things that happen. How she builds them up in her mind until every little thing is make or break.
- novels in verse – Somehow I managed to completely miss the fact that this book is written in verse, until I started reading it. It’s over 400 pages, but there are only words on half the page because of the strange line breaks. There are between 1 and 10 words on each line and there are breaks in the middle of sentences. So the. Whole. Book reads. Like this. I just find it to be a weird way to read a story. It makes me really unsure because it seems like the author’s emphasizing every other word.
- Remington – Well, 1st of all his name’s Remington, which just screams pretentious. He’s completely self-absorbed. Even while he and Sara are together, all Remington does is obsess over his choreography projects. He pretty much ignores her until he wants to do something physical. I mean, he never really gave anyone, least of all Sara, the impression that he’s a good guy, but Remington is a jerk.
- indecision – Sara is so unsure of herself and basically everything in her life. Sara’s confusion over the direction her life is heading is a big part of the book’s plot. She’s only 17 and in way over her head in the ballerina thing, which she’s not sure she wants to commit her life to. The problem with Sara is that she wavers back and forth so much on every decision – every tiny thing, whether it matters or doesn’t matter. A certain amount of indecision I can totally understand, but I wanted to shake Sara and tell her that if she’s unhappy she should change something. She’s so hesitant to make up her mind, even if it means ending something she’s not sure she wants anymore.
- They watch not just the muscles But the bones inside. Dissecting every step. Looking for flaws For missed potential For what might ultimately be unattainable – pg. 246
- I try to focus on his directions Instead of dissecting some uncertain dream, Some desire That has yielded me nothing But second-best heartaches, Ensemble roles. – pg. 380