Audition shares the nightstand with other precious items: a picture of my husband and myself, a baby doll that reminds me of my daughter (it's hers, really, but she'll just chew on it), a baby monitor, and a tin of my current favorite hand lotion, Badger Balm.
Kehoe, Stasia Ward. Audition. 464 p. Viking Juvenile. 2011. Hardcover $17.99. ISBN 9780670013197.
Even if you think you don't like verse novels, try this one. The story of a young dancer admitted to an intense ballet academy on scholarship might change your mind.
Kehoe's knowledge of the ballet world, with all its beauty and ugliness, shines in this book. The intimate details of ballet school life and an inadvisable (but inevitable) romance make for a compelling combination.
The complex and consuming relationship between twenty-two-year-old Remington and sixteen-year-old Sara may tempt the reader to race through the pages to reach the story's conclusion. But to do that would be a disservice to Ward's writing. Her use of language is graceful, expert. You want to linger over it. She harnesses the power of the verse novel format effectively, evoking fully-realized settings, emotions, and plot turns with spare, deceptively simple lines of text.
Tension is sustained throughout the novel as Sara compares her relationship with Remington and her entire experience at the ballet school as one long, never-ending audition. She can never rest easy. She's always striving, always competing, always feeling judged. The pressure is palpable.
It's coincidental that this novel was published around the same time as Bunheads, another novel about a young ballet dancer (read my review here). Though both novels cover somewhat similar territory, the writing styles and plot elements are different enough that the books don't feel too much alike. In fact, reading one book actually enhances the experience of reading the other, especially for those unfamiliar with ballet terms.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stasia Ward Kehoe at KidLitCon 2011, and she is totally fantastic. Isn't it nice when fantastic people write fantastic books? Audition is a captivating story of self-discovery, and I am eager to recommend it at my library.