14 November 2011

Review: Audition - Stasia Ward Kehoe

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
published 2011
contemporary, written in free verse
the author's website
read an excerpt

When sixteen year old Sara wins a scholarship to attend a good ballet school her parents and she are excited. But Sara's new life doesn't turn out to be so exciting and great. She has to move to a foreign city without her parents, her days are filled with school and then endless hours with doing ballet and trying to get better. Sara starts to wonder if she is really doing what is best for her. And she starts to feel lonely and lost. And even the relationship to 22 year old ballet dancer and choreographer Remington can't make her feel less lonely. 
Will Sara find the strength to find out what her dreams are and to go after her own happiness?

I want to start this review with saying that "Audition" is one of my favourite boks in 2011. I pretty much loved everything about this book. Right from the first pages on I was fascinating by the author's powerful & beautiful writing style, for me it was love at first sight. 
The book is written in free verse, and I'm normally not a reader who enjoys verse in any from. But Kehoe's way to write free verse touched something in me, and I could connect to her writing style completly. Here's a short excerpt (from the back of the book) to give you an idea about the writing style. 

Dare I tell them that since I came here to dance
I have been giving pieces of my body away
To ridiculous diets,
To repeated injuries,
To Remington?

And that maybe
I think
With each bit of my body
I lose a little piece of my soul.

I felt what Sara felt, and thought a lot about her and her life after I finishied the book. She made a lasting impression on me. The writing style has a haunting quality that made me feel deeply even at times I didn't want to feel Sara's pain.

The overall tone of the book is a bit sad because Sara's new life is kind of sad, at least for her. She struggles with keeping up in her posh school and at the ballet academy. She dances through pain for hours every day, and some days she speaks only a few sentences because nobody seems to be interested in her thoughts. She has to stay skinny and yet strong. There's no time to just be herself. She feels so lonely, she feels unworthy and disconnected. But don't worry, the book is not too depressing and the end of the book is happy. Because Sara then finally learned to go after her own dreams and interests. 

The relationship between Sara and Remington was not a good and nice one. Remington used Sara as his muse, and Sara used Remington to feel less lonely. Especially the sexual parts of their relationship made me feel sad, because Sara went through with them to mostly feel not so alone anymore. This should never be the reason to start a relationship and especially when you are 16, then your first relationship shouldn't be like that. Btw, I didn't like Rem at all, he was already 22 and the way he played with Sara was just not ok.

Even though I usually love reading romances I was happy that this book wasn't one and didn't end with the big happy reunion of the former lovers. I think the ending was perfect  and left me with a happy and hopeful feeling for Sara's future.

The cover (front and back) is beautiful, but it is also a bit misleading. Because the book is not mainly about the romantic relationship between two people. But the quotes on the cover are great, they give the reader a first impression of the beautiful writing style.

final appraisal
The writing style in this book is brilliant, it's beautiful and so powerful. I was deeply touched by Sara's story and loved reading every page of this book. I was surprised by how perfectly the free verse worked for me, and even though this book is not as happy and light-hearted as the books I usually enjoy, I still fell in love with it. It's one of my favourites in 2011 and I can't wait to read more by the author.

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