Reviews for Audition

Booklist Reviews 2011 November #1
Dancer and choreographer Kehoe's debut novel in verse will be eagerly grabbed by young dancers or those fascinated by the world of classical dance. Sixteen-year-old Sara wins a scholarship to study with the prestigious Jersey Ballet. She leaves her home in rural Vermont and rooms with a dance teacher's family in New Jersey. Her days are divided between a posh private school and grueling rehearsals. All the standard dance dramas occur: eating disorders, intense rivalry for parts, and infatuations with older dancers. Sara ends up in a sexual (but not graphic) relationship with Rem, a 20-something dancer/choreographer, but she bemoans the lack of emotional connection. It is the small details of the ballet world that make this such a riveting read: the cost of leotards; the feeling of being sewn into costumes. Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones will enjoy this cautionary, detail-oriented look at the backstage world of the ballet and cheer for Sara as she finally makes her own decisions about her commitment to dance and her future. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
In this verse novel, sixteen-year-old Sara is a new scholarship student at big-city Jersey Ballet, where she feels "every day / Is an audition." Unhappy, she falls into an intense sexual and creative relationship with older male dancer Remington. Sophisticated terminology and dance imagery speak to ballet insiders, while Sara's struggle to define herself and her dreams is relatable to everyone.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 September #2

This verse novel debut follows a reticent Vermont girl through a scholarship-funded year at the elite Jersey Ballet school.

Sara's always been the best dancer in the neighborhood teacher's basement classes. The summer before junior year, she leaves Darby Station's orchards and woodstoves behind. Adjusting to New Jersey is difficult; she's older than the other dancers at her level and feels "like a hick." She's terribly lonely and shy, her voice "[a]n unflexed muscle." Despite first-person narration, Sara's withdrawn personality keeps her at bay from readers as well as characters. There's little joy in her ballet-skill improvement or going to bed with her object of desire. Sara's 16, and Remington is "God, maybe twenty-two" (an unsettling double meaning). She stretches naked in his apartment and becomes his choreography muse, but he casts other ballerinas—not her—to dance those roles in public. Sara tires of "endless auditions, eternal scrutiny" and "giving pieces of my body away." As she finds agency, she offers conclusions that seem oversimplified given earlier ambivalence: that ballet was only ever "a dream others dreamed for her," that sex was solely "a price to be paid / For company," "in hopes / Of feeling my worth." Her attitude about food, moreover, is an inconsistent point in the writing.

No romance here, but copious ballet details and hard-won steps toward independence. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 September #2

Told through free-verse poetry, Kehoe's first novel about an aspiring ballerina pairs dancing with coming-of-age themes. When 16-year-old Sara receives a scholarship to study at the Jersey ballet, she moves from her rural childhood home in Vermont to dance with an intense choreographer. While she has natural talent, her technique pales next to the other girls, making her feel like a "backward ballerina." Even so, she catches the attention of an older dancer/budding choreographer, Remington, and begins a relationship with him, though Rem seems to be in charge of directing their romance. Between Rem, private school demands, and the ballet's "endless auditions, eternal scrutiny," Sara feels overwhelmed: "I've half forgotten/ Who wants this life I lead/ Or who ever really chose it to begin with." The author, who has a performing and choreography background, stages Sara's dance world clearly through her spare verse, from ballet moves and body aches to studio drama. Most of Sara's problems are predictable, but readers will empathize as she struggles with everything from sore shins to Rem's fickleness and whether she wants to continue dancing at all. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 October

Gr 8 Up--A Boston audition opens doors for Sara-the chance to study with a professional ballet company, attend a private high school, and dance before ecstatic audiences--a dream world away from her rural Vermont home. Now a rising junior, Sara is both scared and excited about her opportunity, wondering if she'll ever measure up to her fellow dancers. However, tendus, relevs, and piqu turns are not the only thing she learns there; she also is smitten by the attention of Remington, the lead male dancer and burgeoning choreographer who delights in both her artistry and her innocence. When the two become lovers, a relationship destined for failure, Sara begins to doubt everything about herself. Told through short vignettes (poemlike in their spare yet precise language), Sara's coming-of-age tale is one of passion and romance, colliding with her vision of whom she ultimately hopes to be. Her confused feelings are believably expressed, and her attitudes toward her friends and the adults in her life will ring true, especially to those readers who are also involved in the performing arts. While Sara's exposure to smoking, drinking, and sex, as well as her attempts to balance her newfound freedoms with her one-time innocence, are fairly predictable, her self-questioning is well handled, and she grows, both as a dancer and as a person, throughout the book. Kehoe's tale will appeal to teens yearning for a life on the stage and give them food for thought via an easy read.--Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL

[Page 138]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2011 October
Coming from Darby Station, a small town in Vermont, sixteen-year-old Sara should be thrilled that she has won a year-long scholarship to study at the Jersey Ballet. She is not. She has been dancing for years now, but she is still not sure it is her dream. Boarding with dance instructor Señor Medrano and his family is just the first set of unfamiliar circumstances for Sara; she also has to adjust to the big-city buses and the fancy private school her mom chose for her. Discovering her talent for writing, Sara wonders if she should dance at all. Written in free verse poetry, this book looks deceptively simple, but the numerous plot lines and vaguely addressed issues make for more complicated reading. Older teens may want to delve into the oblique references to eating disorders, peer pressure, parent/teen relationships, using sex as a way to feel connected, and what it means to follow your own dreams; younger teens are unlikely to see beyond what is written. It is difficult to engage with any of the characters, and for a sparsely written book, it is hard to decipher which plot line and which details are meant to be important. There is potential for an interesting discussion, perhaps led by an adult so teens can be referred to outside resources if needed, or the book might appeal to a reader looking to explore beyond the pages.--Stacey Hayman 2P 3Q S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.