I am a huge fan of English author Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes and the like)--stories of kids going on stage, with struggles, vivid descriptions of the theatre, and ultimate triumph. In fact, I'm a sucker for books about kids pursuing careers in the performing arts in general (although Helen Doyle Boylston's Sue Barton books about nursing are much better than her theatre series about Carol). So once I realized that Dramarama, by E. Lockhart, was going to take me off to a summer theater camp crammed with incredibly talented teens, I was very hopeful. From the first pages I enjoyed the voices of the narrator (Sarah aka Saydee) and her best buddy (Demi) immensely, so I just sat back happily to enjoy the show.
Saydee and Demi are best friends, one girl, one guy, one straight, one gay, one white, one black (making Demi the only black gay guy I've encountered this year in my YA reading, but in Lockhart's skilled hands he is far more than the sum of these labels). Both are panting to escape boring Ohio for the razzle-dazzle of the theatre, with the Wildewood Summer Institute their first stop.
Dramarama did not disappoint. Lockhart does a great job balancing her descriptions of the theatre aspects of the story with character development and interpersonal relationships. Sayde's ups and downs with her performances and her friendships are neither so up as to be unrealistic nor so down as to depress sensitive readers such as myself. I had a great time reading this book, and briefly toyed with the idea of running of to go on stage myself...although I really don't want to move to New York...
E. Lockhart is also the author of several other books, none of which I have read. Yet. Here's her website.
Dramarama has been nominated for the YA Cybils award--thanks to the publisher, Hyperion, for sending us review copies! And if you haven't nominated your favorite books of the year for the Cybils, head on over and do so!
Here's another review, over at Interactive Reader.