I’ve said it before: no negative book reviews here. Sadly, as I continue to rip through the stack of Advanced Reader Copies I’d gotten at the Midwinter ALA Meeting, there are more and more books that are not making the cut. Recently read one by an author who has a lot of titles under his belt, yet who treats the reader like someone who can’t get a clue even if it’s pasted to their forehead. It was excruciating. Another book read like a bad cliche, inducing groans of misery. So it is a pleasure to then come upon a book that is fresh and hip and fun and satisfying, which is what “Audrey, Wait!” by Robin Benway is (Razorbill Books, April 2008, Ages 12-up, 320 pages, $16.99).
Here is a disclaimer of sorts: this book is listed for ages 12 and up, BUT there is some content that readers and parents of middle schoolers should know about. In chapter 1, the main character is breaking up with her boyfriend. He’s a bit of a stoner (and that is not why she’s breaking up with him), and she’s the one who always has to go to the nurse’s office to pick up the condoms (that is partly why she’s breaking up with him). I give the author full marks for putting this right in the first chapter, setting out what can be expected in later chapters…even though this isn’t exactly what is to be expected in later chapters. These elements may give the book an edginess that the YA market seems to like, but the nonchalant attitude toward sex and lack of consequences for characters doing drugs may not sit well with all. Also, there is plenty of swearing throughout, but I personally find this fits well in the characters’ mouths, and lends realism to the dialogue.
Okay, disclaimer aside, I really enjoyed “Audrey, Wait!” When high school junior Audrey breaks up with her long-time boyfriend/musician Evan, she leaves, and he calls out, “Audrey, wait!” She doesn’t. What he does is write a hit breakup song about her that rockets up the music charts, throwing him into instant fame. Against her will, Audrey becomes famous too. She’s the girl that inspired the song, an amazing muse, or a cold-hearted bee-atch, depending on what tabloid you read. Audrey tells her side of the story, highlighting how weird it is to have everyone think they know you, to photograph you asleep in your English class, to stalk you when you try to do things like work, or go on a date, or even buy something at a store. Bit by bit, Audrey’s life seems to be taken away from her, a normal life she never fully appreciated until now. Suddenly she finds she’s also losing her best friend and the boy she’s come to adore. It’s time for her to finally take action, turning the media-driven music world on its ear.
The book was a blast to read. Come on. Haven’t we all fantasized about being famous? It’s full of laughs and twists and is a satisfying adventure into the land of what-if. Pick it up when it comes out in April!