Thursday, April 4, 2013
Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg
Release Date: April 1, 2013
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.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Elizabeth Eulberg is one of my favorite contemporary YA authors. I fell in love with her when I read Prom and Prejudice. Her third book, Take A Bow is just as wonderful! (although I have a soft spot in my heart for Prom and Prejudice).
Take A Bow is ostensibly a book about senior year at an uber-competitive performing arts school. But really, it's a character study of four friends and classmates. Writing a book from four points of view is always a dicey method for an author. The risk of confusion is high. But Ethan, Emme, Carter, and Sophie are such distinctive personalities that I never had trouble telling them apart. The characters come to life in such a way that I was cheering and jeering alongside each of them.
Sophie is the most difficult character to like. She's the type of girl you hate - the one who gleefully steps on people's backs with her pointy stilettos to get what she wants. She treats her long-suffering best friend terribly and is only after her boyfriend for the fame. At the same time, I did feel sorry for her - she went from being the big fish to one of many big fish and couldn't deal with it. I also admired her endless determination. She is probably the most one dimensional character, yet I think everyone knows someone like her.
Emme is Sophie's much maligned best friend. She wastes all her talents on writing songs for Sophie and gets none of the credit. I spent much of the book wanting to slap her. She is so sweet and naive that it made me sick. Even a five year old could recognize that Sophie was using her, yet Emme strolled through life with blinders on. But it's hard to remain angry at such a genuine girl. Take A Bow could also be called "Emme Grows A Back-Bone". Emme was lucky to have a group of real friends who helped her emerge from her thick Sophie shell and realize her own talents.
Ethan is a damaged but lovable song-writer. Very emo. He's amazingly talented, but his own demons get in the way of his success. I wanted to hug him throughout most of the book. He drinks too much and cheats on his girlfriend endlessly, but he is a kind, quiet, haunted personality. He desperately needed help. Despite being a train wreck, I wanted Ethan to succeed and find happiness at everything. Ethan is the male version of Emme - trapped by his low self-esteem.
Carter was probably my favorite. He's a child star of a long running soap opera who got into CPA by virtue of his name alone. He gets all the best roles despite having less talent than his classmates. What makes me love Carter, is that he recognizes this and hates it. He wants something more out of life than being a child actor. He could be a stuck up snob, but Carter was funny, sardonic, self-deprecating, and kind. I loved watching him find his own way through the novel. I especially loved that his sections of the novel were written in screen-play form. It made his character stand out.
I highly recommend Take A Bow. It's a fun, easy read about a life that few of us will ever experience. Elizabeth Eulberg does such a wonderful job at creating four different characters suffering from realistic pressures that I felt like I was experiencing the CPA world for real alongside Emma, Carter, Ethan, and Sophie. I can't wait to read what Elizabeth writes next!