Monday, June 4, 2012

Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg

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.

My rating: ****
That's a pretty high four stars too. I really loved this book. Part of that has a lot to do with my background. I was seriously into music all throughout high school and college. I've been in bands, I play the guitar, piano, and flute, I've written songs, I've performed a ton. I've been really looking forward to reading Take a Bow, to see if it accurately portrayed the pressures of auditions, the self-consciousness of performing a song you've written, the joy of being onstage and in the spotlight, and all the backstage drama that goes with being in the performing arts.

Take a Bow delivers it all. It really captures that performance atmosphere. I especially loved Emme (even though in real life I'm a combo of Emme and Sophie - I write the songs but am not terrified of the spotlight). Emme is so sweet (she's almost too good of a person to be believable - I can't believe she put up with Sophie for so long without realizing she was being used) and I really enjoyed her dynamics with her bandmates. Jack and Ben cracked me up constantly and Ethan was the brooding genius type to a "T". The Sophie/Carter storylines were less interesting to me. There wasn't much of Carter and I pretty much hated Sophie (forget that I compared myself to her back there). She was a nice foil to Emme, though, and really shows exactly how your life will be if all you care about is fame and money. In fact, this whole book has a wonderful message about doing what you love and following your dreams. I think it'd be a great book for teenagers (especially performing teenagers) to read.

My only complaint? Sometimes the characters didn't sound real to me. I mentioned before that Emme almost seems too good. It's the same thing throughout the book. Sophie is almost too evil to be real. Jack and Ben are too goofy and don't have enough other character traits to turn them into well-rounded 'real' people. And then there's Ethan. Real people don't talk like Ethan. Even songwriter/poet types. Nobody is that eloquent when they express their feelings, especially when they're telling the girl they've always loved that they love her. Real people stumble and trip all over themselves when expressing something so personal, so repressed. They don't deliver several paragraph-long perfect speeches. I had the same problem with Prom and Prejudice and I thought it was Elizabeth Eulberg trying too hard to channel Jane Austen. Now I think it's just an Elizabeth Eulberg problem.

Anyway, it's a minor thing that got on my nerves a few times. I still really loved this.

Recommended for fans of music, performing, and contemporary romance. (I also think you'll like it if you like the High School Musical movies or Glee.)

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