Review: Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Publication Date: October 13th, 2011
Viking Juvenile
Format: Hardcover, 458 pages
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
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? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

Dare I tell 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.

This isn’t a book about a girl’s ultimate dream to be a prima ballerina at a prestigious dance company. This is a book about her realizing that dance is so far off her horizon, it’s basically out in space. It was really hard to figure out how dance came to be Sara’s life. Was it due to her parents’ constant pushing? Or was it because dance came to her naturally? And it wasn’t because Sara wants to leave the slow, New England life she’d known. Ballet is just ballet. She accepted the dance scholarship with great trepidation because, really, what else was she to do?

This is written in verse form, a style that I’m a huge fan of. I know it’s not for everyone but I really love the neat, straightforward writing of these novels. I’ve yet to read one that I did not like. The words are like disjointed lyrics, stilted prose and yet, succinct and purposely vivid. Ms. Kehoe’s style encapsulate all that. She captured the glamour and elegance of the dancers’ costumes in not so many words, the ghastly pain Sara endured and the life of a ballerina who’s always starving – for food and for attention. She also managed to portray the beauty and grace of ballet with every plié, jeté, and tendu.

But.

But.

I was unable to develop an affinity to the characters, most especially to Sara and Remington. Sara has a very timid personality. She feels so much but has the greatest inability to voice them out. She frustrated me most of the time. She wasn’t blind – she knew what was going on and yet she kept making the same mistakes consciously. And I understand, truly, I do. She’s young, utterly fascinated by the attention of an older man and a tiny part of her is thrilled that she’s able to inspire Rem. But the word, “NO”, is not in her vocabulary.  Remington is probably one of the most selfish, egocentric character I’ve the displeasure of reading. I’ve been staring at my blinking cursor trying to find a redeeming quality to Rem and regrettably finding none. Sorry. This man is completely one-dimensional. My detachment to the characters was also one of the factors why this book didn’t make me feel anything. Somehow, these two had a numbing effect on me.

This verse novel is a bit on the narrative side and perhaps it’s also one of the things that hindered me from enjoying this book more. And yes, I am aware that most verse books are actually narrative but the dialogues in this one was more sparse than most.

I think that this book would be quite enjoyable to some but just not for me. I am interested to read more of Ms. Kehoe’s future books, however.