Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.
Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
There's more drama offstage than onstage for high-school thespian Rebecca Rivers in this sharp-witted debut novel, which traces several crises in her junior year. First, there is the issue of Rebecca breaking her pact with her small circle of actor friends by becoming romantically involved with a boy within the group; then Rebecca's estranged older sister, Mary, suddenly returns home to announce her engagement to a professional golfer. But most traumatic of all are the false rumors being spread around school that could destroy both Rebecca and the entire drama department. Balancing masterful comedic timing with a thoughtful presentation of controversial topics, first-time novelist Adrian's writing brims with authenticity and compassion. Highly visual scenarios, such as Rebecca's parents' awkward reunion with their rebellious-daughter-turned-mainstream-fianc e, are priceless ("Mom was pretty desperate to meet the fianc , whereas Dad was content to watch old recordings of Jeffrey's most crucial golf moments"), and the messages about peer, teacher, and family relationships are evergreen. Readers will easily relate to Rebecca, who combats many obstacles without losing her passion for the stage. Ages 14 up.