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Friday, April 20, 2012

Book Review: Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

I was searching through new and upcoming book releases on Amazon when I happened upon a new book by Elizabeth Eulberg. I was pretty excited about it. The first book I had read by her was Prom & Prejudice, which was actually her second book. See? I talked about the whole Austen thing before. Prom & Prejudice is another such book taking the story of Pride and Prejudice and setting it in a modern private academy world. It was an enjoyable read, so I looked her up to see if she had any other books and lo and behold, I found The Lonely Hearts Club. It's about a girl that starts a friendship club for girls tired of getting their hearts broken. It's about the empowerment of women and how we don't need a man to make our lives meaningful. Of course, there's also romance on the mix. But I digress. Anyway, I ordered Take a Bow immediately and had to wait almost two weeks to get it. It was sad, though, because it only took me one day to read. It's like Fame only not with so much dancing on the cars in the streets of New York.

Book Description:
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
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 band mates. 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.
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My Review:
Let me just preface this by saying that I really did enjoy the book. The story unfolds with four perspective voices. There's Sophie, Carter, Ethan and Emme. Each chapter is from a different perspective character which still moves the plot along in a linear fashion. I liked way the story was told. The voice was always fresh and new because it would be four chapters until we came back to that character's chapter again. And I liked that I could see the story through not just one pair of eyes. It was very well crafted.

I do have to say though, that starting out, the only character I really liked was Ethan. I couldn't stand Sophie. She's so completely absorbed in her own talent and importance. She sees the world as her stage and all the little people help her reach her goals. She has drawn out a plan to become famous, which also includes those around her. She uses every one she knows to her own end like she has the right to because she deserves it. An example is her relationship with Emme. She is Emme's best friend, but I can't say the feeling is mutual. Emme is a songwriter and she needs Emme to be a part of the plan so Emme will write songs for her to sing. No one can write songs like Emme can or make Sophie sound as dynamic as Emme does with her music. Emme doesn't sing her own songs because Sophie has convinced her that she doesn't sing very well. As it turns out, Emme does have a decent voice, but then she becomes competition. Even Sophie's choice in boyfriends is calculated. She is dating Carter who is a child star and currently starring in a soap opera. She like dating Carter because they go out often to premiers and such and there are lots of photo ops to get her face out there and her name. Carter is just one of the stepping stones that will help Sophie achieve her dream of fame and success. I found nothing at all endearing about her, but the character was very well written.

Carter is a bit more sympathetic. He is going through an identity crisis realizing that he really doesn't enjoy acting. It is unfortunate because no one will allow him the opportunity to explore any other career path other than acting. In any of the school productions, he is always told he is going to be doing a scene from a play. Even when he tried to suggest another talent to showcase, he was basically shut down. He feels trapped by a future he no longer wants and has no idea how to extricate himself from the situation he has found himself in. He finds that he is not just acting on the set, but he's acting through life. Playing the perfect boyfriend, playing the perfect student, playing the perfect son. Catering to everyone else's expecatations of who he should be. He knows Emme since he is dating Sophie, but in one evening they have a meaningful conversation where he confides in her his personal conflict and she is supportive. He wants to get into an art program and she encourages him. They become friends, but that is just another thorn in Sophie's side. The one issue I had with Carter is that it took him so long to figure out what a manipulative, conniving girl he was dating. He, as it turns out, can also play the perfect doormat.

Emme and Ethan are in a band together along with Ben and Jack. I really got a kick out of the sections in the book dealing with the band, name - Teenage Kicks. Before every show, or at least major show, Jack would pump up the band by telling stories about the demise of the band and all the members there in. They were tragic tales. I like the banter and you could tell that these were four people who cared for one another and supported one another and as the end of senior year gets closer, the realization that the band will soon break up is a little sad, but such is the way of life.
Emme is a loyal friend which is certainly a quality I look for in a friend, but she is also handicapped by her friendship with Sophie. Everyone keeps telling her that Sophie is just using her, but she gets angry and defensive. She makes excuses, allowances, even bends the rules slightly all to help her friend out. Sophie knows that a few tears will get Emme to do whatever she wants and Emme just lets her. I want to shake her silly. She is a talented songwriter who doesn't want to shine in the spotlight. She'd rather be in the back ground where she is comfortable. She has believed all the things Sophie has been telling her for years, so she is not very confident in herself. It takes Ethan to break her out of that. It wasn't until she finally realized for herself what Sophie is really like that I really came to like her as a character. I found that she is not a push over as I had thought, but is actually very strong and can stand up for herself when the need arises.

Ethan is my favorite character. He's flawed, but he seems to be the most balanced out of the four. He is the front man for the group. He accepted the roll reluctantly, but became comfortable with the attention. He was dating Kelsey, but they split up. He was living a true rock star life style in that he was drinking before the shows, cheating on his girlfriend with the groupies if she wasn't there and generally engaged in all kinds of self destructive behavior. His relationship with Kelsey took place off page and before the present story takes place, but it was an on again / off again relationship that finally ended with them calling quits. It left him shattered and he found himself in a very dark place. He didn't care about himself or much else. It took Emme losing it to shake him out of his downward spiral. He is not proud of how he behaved, but he is reformed and would like nothing more than to regain Emme's trust. He is in love with her, but feels like she could never reciprocate his feelings. She made her feelings on his infidelity very clear. He contents himself with just being friends until Carter starts hanging around, although Carter and Emme just become good friends. He can still handle it though, until Emme starts dating another student in the music program and he loses it again. His feelings run deep and he just doesn't know what to do with them since he feels he has a snowball's chance in hell of Emme ever returning his feelings. He starts to self destruct again and it seems as if Emme is the only one that can help pull him back together.

I would like to say that Sophie redeems herself, that Carter finds himself, that Emme can see Sophie for who she is and Ethan as well and that Ethan will at least find some happiness. You're going to have to read the book to find out, though.

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Multiple points of view can be confusing, but sounds like the author knew what they were doing. Love your description that it was like the movie Fame, only not with so much dancing on the cars in the streets of New York!