Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TAKE A BOW by Elizabeth Eulberg

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher:  Point (a Scholastic imprint)
Release Date: April 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 278
Source of Book: ARC from NCTE Convention

From the fantastic author of The Lonely Hearts Club and Prom & Prejudice comes a story of all the drama and comedy of four friends who grow into themselves at a performing arts high school.

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.

I adore Elizabeth Eulberg and I love, love, love her books and writing. It all started with THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB in January 2010, I was drawn in by the cover and I immediately loved it and recommended it to a few students who started passing it on to each other until I had to buy a second copy to meet demand. Then came the wonderfulness of PROM & PREJUDICE last year which was a lovely modern retelling of the classic Jane Austen story (and a title my students recently chose for an impromptu book club). You may have seen me mention one or both of those titles on twitter whenever someone asks for a cute, light-hearted, contemporary with some romance. The thing I love most about her books is that they are very accessible read and completely appropriate for the middle schoolers I recommend them to the most. And TAKE A BOW is no exception. In fact, I think this might be her best one yet!

One of the cool things about Elizabeth's books is that they all incorporate music in some way. Now, if you follow her on twitter or her blog, you'll quickly realize that Elizabeth loves music in real life and is always on the look out for the next concert, and I think that's something that many students can relate to. Sometimes it's more subtly included than others, but it's always there. In TAKE A BOW, it's a huge part of the story, but also done in different ways based on the characters. As I was reading I kept thinking back to Fame and that this is what it must really be like in these performing arts high schools. I love the whole concept and setting for this book-it's like high school drama on steroids when you add in the musicians and actors. This is one of those books where you're going to want to say, "I'm with the band!"

There is an honesty to Elizabeth's writing that I really appreciate and can relate to. It's not angsty just to be angsty, these teens are dealing with real issues that affect their lives and hopes for the future. Carter, Sophie, Ethan, and Emme are each their own definitively unique characters and all come across and realistic portrayals of people we could all know out in the world. They are not stereotyped, they have depth, they have real emotions and feelings, and they aren't always perfect. Even the good guy (and I appreciate having a true good guy, not just the bad boys) isn't perfect in how he deals with his emotions and feelings, which is realistic. They are teens and they are learning how to get by and figure out their lives in this cuthroat environment reaching for their dreams. Even the secondary characters are well-drawn and add some needed commentary and humor. I really appreciated that this story was told from the four different points of view, and the way in which they overlapped was so well done that I got the feeling of the complete story. Sometimes it was a little hard to distinguish what was happening in the present from the past memories helping us get background, but the voices were each distinct from each other.

I passed my ARC on to one of my students who was looking for a new book (and who had read Elizabeth's other two books and loved them) and asked her to share her thoughts with me when she was done, and she gave me a bullet pointed list of her thoughts. This is what she had to say (*caution-spoilers ahead): "Liked how it was from four people's points of view and how they all knew each other. Loved how Sophie was using Emme by Emme didn't realize it for awhile, loved how Emme stood up to Sophie, glad Sophie got what she deserved. Love the band. LIked how they were talking about college. Liked Carter's point of view. Liked how Ethan has always like Emme and glad Ethan and Emme are a couple." And my favorite comment from my student: "Loved how the book made me want to read more every time I put it down!"

This is definitely one to add to any middle school or high school classroom library or recommendation list. Especially recommend it to your drama kings and queens and your passionate musicians. And I hear it's already on store shelves, so go get it today and come back and let me know your thoughts about it! I am eagerly anticipating whatever Elizabeth Eulberg will share with us next!

1 comment:

  1. So glad to read your positive review of this book. I have read Eulberg's previous two and have this on hold at my library. I am sure I will enjoy it just as much!