Saturday, June 25, 2011

High School Drama Keeps It Real

(Image from Indiebound)

Senior Brooke Dempsey is rich, beautiful, and one of the most popular girls at William O. Douglas High. Kathryn Pease, on the other hand, is not. Considering all their differences, a friendship between the girls never should have worked. But it did. Once. Back in junior year, the two music lovers bonded over their shared passion. With Kathryn, Brooke can be real, embracing her inner choir geek without fear of being mocked. Kathryn's surprised by Brooke's sudden attention, but thrilled when it turns her into an overnight A-lister, bringing her instant acceptance from a group of people who never gave her the time of day before. Riding high on the wave of her new-found popularity, Kathryn ignores Brooke's warnings about the fickleness of the in crowd. Until Homecoming night, when a spectacular betrayal shows her just how treacherous tango-ing with high school royalty can be.

A year later, Kathryn's dwindling in social obscurity once again. She goes out of her way to avoid Brooke, but there's one place where she can't hide from the wrath of her former friend - chamber choir. Especially now that the girls are competing against each other to win a prestigious vocal competition. Kathryn's in it less for the honor and more for the prize money and scholarships - without them, she won't have the funds to go to college. Brooke doesn't need the money, but she's anxious to prove herself to everyone who dismisses her dreams of singing professionally as a silly fantasy. Beating each other would just be icing on the cake.

As the contest creeps closer and closer, the rivalry between the girls reaches fever pitch, forcing them to confront each other about the closeness they once shared and the stunning betrayal that ripped their friendship apart. When all is said and done, only one question remains: Who is the better singer? Soon they'll find out. But as the competition gets underway, both begin to wonder - Does it really matter?

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer, brings all the drama of high school to vivid life in a debut novel with surprising depth. It's a story that examines the ups and downs of teenage friendships without discounting them as frivolous or childish. By letting us inside the heads of both heroines, Wealer tells an impactful she said/she said tale that reminds us that friendships - like rivalries, like betrayals - are not always what they seem. And that truth will always set you free. Authentic and hopeful, Rival might not blow you away, but it will make you root for two girls with so much to lose, and so very much to win.

(Readalikes: The music part of it reminds me a little of Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison. Other than that, I can't really think of anything.)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language (2 F-bombs, plus milder invectives), sexual innuendo, and scenes depicting underrage drinking/partying

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Rival from the generous folks at Harper Teen. Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. This book sounds really good and I think that cover is stunning. I'm putting it on my list of books. Thanks for sharing it as it wasn't one I had heard of before. :-)

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  2. Since I work in a high school, I really like books about high school life and all that angst. I've had this one on my list, and your review makes me want to hurry up and get to it!

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  3. I really liked this book. Your review brought all the reasons back to me. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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