Thursday, October 13, 2011

Audition, Sacrifice, and a Signed Giveaway

Not long ago, I talked about this book:

by Stasia Kehoe

You remember what it's about? In case you don't, here's what Goodreads says:

When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

Here's what I said about AUDITION in a roundabout way before I even read it in this post called IF IT DOESN'T ALMOST KILL YOU, IT'S JUST COKE ZERO. And in case you don't want to actually read the post, the gist of it was this: If you're not sacrificing for it, it's not a dream as much as it's just something you like a lot. Okay, seriously, just go read it because that's not all I said. Anyway, the point is that it was the premise of AUDITION that got me thinking about dreams and what it takes to achieve them.

And now that I've read AUDITION (a few months ago, actually), I can tell you that I still feel the same way. Stronger, actually. See, the thing is we have this tendency to blame other people when our dreams don't come true. And maybe, sometimes, it is the case that your dream falling to pieces is not your fault at all. Say your dream is to go to Mars wearing only tinfoil. You can't help it that this doesn't happen. But a lot of dreams (most, even?) are up to you to make it happen. Up to you to sacrifice, I mean. Take...publishing, for example. We all know publishing is cutthroat and it can bleed you of your sanity. For some people, the obstacles become a bit Job-like, and it seems the trials are greater than any mere mortal should be asked to withstand.

But, really, the dream's not over until you either die or give up. If you die first, well, dang. Sorry. If you give up...maybe the sacrifice is just too great. Maybe, just maybe you don't want it bad enough. Something to think about.

It's what AUDITION gets you thinking about.

So while we're on the topic, I should tell you that AUDITION gets you thinking about a lot, actually. Dance, for one thing. And I love dancing, of any kind (except for clogging--that just kind of wigs me out). But as much as this book deals with dance, it's not actually about dance. It's about, I don't know...sacrifice...pain...heartache--all of these things. But all of these things come about because of one thing: longing. A longing for acceptance, achievement, love, affection, attention, success, glory, hope. It pushes the cry of teenage existence to the forefront: See me! In other words, Do not overlook me, forget me, neglect me, or see me as something other than what I am.

Because that's all a teenager (anyone) really wants, isn't it? To be seen and heard and felt. The problem, of course, seems to be that teens don't always know how to go about being seen. Sometimes, this results in a dream that is formed out of a spark of recognition/success. Remember when your art teacher said, "What a lovely drawing, Johnny!" and you suddenly had aspirations to become an artist? Or when you made money babysitting and wondered if you should be a nanny for the rest of forever? It's easy to form a dream out of something that let us be seen for just a moment. So what happens when you start to realize that the sacrifice to achieve that dream may cost you more than it's worth? This is what AUDITION explores in heart-wrenching detail.

AUDITION is beautiful. So, so poignant and sad and happy and alive. It is poetry, yes, but poetry that reads like narrative. Within a few stanzas, you forget you're reading verse, and then the story simply comes to life, like listening to the lyrics of a song. You will find yourself reading the words out loud just to listen to the sound of it, and sometimes you will whip through because you must know, you must, what will happen to Sara. And you will grip your book tight, and wonder, why, why, why, Sara?? But you might then discover that there are boundaries you too might cross, just like Sara, if you were in the same toe shoes.

This was my first experience with a novel in verse, and I can't think of a more breathtaking initiation. AUDITION is tense and edgy and yet it doesn't grip you by the throat--it captivates you with its grace.

Now go get it, so we can talk about it. The best parts of this book are the parts I can't discuss here without spoiling it for everyone.

Also, be sure to check out Lisa and Laura Roecker's thoughts on AUDITION. You might be surprised what they have to say about AUDITION and dreams.

Want a Signed Hardcover of AUDITION?

 Click here to enter to win a Signed Hardcover of AUDITION

This giveaway is international and ends Monday, October 24, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

This giveaway is now closed. And the winner of a signed Hardcover of AUDITION is:


Please email an address to which I can send you your book! Thanks so much to all who entered! Please stay tuned for the next giveaway.


Also, major congratulations to Shannon Whitney Messenger  on the sale of her middle grade KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES! Woo-hoo! Be sure to wish Shannon congrats!! *Dances*


See what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today:

Elana Johnson offers a preview of upcoming awesome!
LiLa Roecker dances for Audition
Christine Fonseca is wowed by Witch Eyes
Beth Revis features a guest post by Darkfall author Janice Hardy
Carolina M Valdez steps up to Audition – with giveaway
Shana Silver contemplates The Future of Us
Carrie Harris is dazzled by Don’t Stop Now
Corrine Jackson celebrates the success of Epic Fail
Shelli Johannes-Wells is psyched for some swell book launches!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Review of THE FUTURE OF US and a Signed Jay Asher Giveaway

I hate to break it to you, but I'm not giving away a signed Jay Asher. I am, however, giving away a couple of his signed books, including an ARC of THE FUTURE OF US, cowritten with Carolyn Mackler (and signed by both) and a signed award winning THIRTEEN REASONS WHY.

Below, you'll also find my review of THE FUTURE OF US. You may notice I say nothing about the awesomeness of the authors. I wanted to focus on the book, because that's what reviews do. But let it be known, they are awesome, in that same way that cereal covered donuts are awesome.


by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
TheFutureof Us
Summary: It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.
Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.
Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.
Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Teenagers from 1996 stumbling across some time warp glitch in a computer to discover their Facebook identities fifteen years later? SOLD. In fact, I liked the premise so much I was a little dubious. So often I get excited about a book only to read it and find myself curling into a fetal position, ripping my hair out in clumps. But, just so you know, one day. That's it. That's what it took me to read this book. I set aside my entire life just to read this. Happily.

Okay, so I love 1996. For obvious reasons. So I won't mention them here. But I will say those reasons make it into the book. You'll see. If you were a teenager in 1996 and on Facebook today, reading THE FUTURE OF US makes you feel like you're a part of a secret club where you know the secret handshake and all the inside jokes. BUT. The cool thing is  you don't have to have been a teenager in 1996 to get it. And to love it. You don't have to have been alive, even. If you're a teenager today, you'll read it and probably scoff at the idiocy of us poor schmucks who carted around gigantic Discmans to go jogging, in the same way we old people laugh at those even older people who wore plaid bell bottoms like on purpose. So, there's that aspect of it--laughing at prehistoric times, which always makes for good reading.

But also, and more importantly, there's a story here. A solid, beautiful story. Friendship, love, hopes, dreams, fears--everything all teenagers face whether it's 1996 or 2011. Indeed, everything we face at any age. But as teens, we don't always know that. It's impossible to imagine a life of experience when our experiences have been so limited. So, yeah, we all want to see our futures because there's just no picture our minds can realistically conjure of them yet, not as teens (or maybe ever). But man, how dangerous if it actually happens, right? Have we learned nothing from BACK TO THE FUTURE? Well, yeah, that getting a view of your grown-up self makes for glorious fiction. I still get a huge kick out of stories like THIRTEEN GOING ON THIRTY, BIG and now THE FUTURE OF US. It's an exploration of possibility and consequence. As  teenagers, many of us said we had no idea what we wanted out of our lives, but really, come on, we knew. We knew.  And we sort of thought we'd get it right? A happy ending. Pshaw! Here's what you learn in THE FUTURE OF US: there's no such thing as a happy ending. Or a sad ending. Err...or an ending. There's just a happy or a sad now, your choice.

What I love most, and what makes this such an original story is that these characters don't actually travel to the future. They merely get to see it, AND see how the things they do (and change) in the present affect those fragile futures of theirs. It's a bit of an eye-opener. Just imagine seeing your future change with every choice you make, small or big--how powerful you might feel, and equally helpless, because not all actions are within our control. THE FUTURE OF US is more than just a cool comedy/fantasy/romance about two teenagers who get to see their futures on Facebook. It's a poignant exploration of identity and longing and a touching look into the lives of two teenagers who circumnavigate extraordinary circumstances to find each other in their ordinary lives.

Today, I'm offering

TheFutureof Us

ARC of THE FUTURE OF US, Signed by both Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

13ReasonsWhy THIRTEEN REASONS WHY Signed by Jay Asher

This giveaway is international and ends Monday, October 24, midnight EST. You must be 13 years old to enter. If you win, you will need to provide an address for shipment. Under 18's must have parent/guardian permission to enter.

Click Here to Enter the Signed Jay Asher Giveaway

This Giveaway has now closed. Here are the winners:

Katy U.

Mary B.

Congratulations winners! Please email me an address to which I can send your book. Thanks so much to all that entered. Stay tuned for the next giveaway!

Winners of my last giveaway (ASHFALL, WITHOUT TESS, UNFORSAKEN, TRIS & IZZIE) are posted HERE.

Be sure to check out what the other Bookanistas are highlighting today!

Elana Johnson is obsessed with Possess
Christine Fonseca twirls for Audition
Shannon Whitney Messenger is wowed by The White Assassin – with giveaway
Shelli Johannes-Wells applauds The Pledge
Beth Revis interviews The Girl of Fire & Thorns author Rae Carson
Carolina M Valdezdelves into The Future of Us – with signed book giveaway
Shana Silver shouts out about Shut Out
Sarah Frances Hardy fancies You Will Be My Friend