Release Date: April 1, 2012Take a Bow was a sweet little surprise. My only previous experience with Elizabeth Eulburg was last year’s Prom and Prejudice, the modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic tale of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. While I didn’t think it was poorly written or uninteresting, I just didn’t really care for it (though, perhaps the fault lies not in the novel, but in my slightly prejudicial love of classic Lizzie and Darcy). It’s also been established that I am a fan of the arts, especially schools of the arts, so I thought I’d give it a shot.
Age Group: Young Adult
Buy: Amazon / Book Depository / Fountain Bookstore
Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.
Once again, I’m glad I did. Take a Bow is entertaining, enjoyable, realistic—an excellent way to spend an afternoon or weekend. It takes place at the fictional New York City High School of the Creative and Performing Arts (CPA for short), a school that prepares students for life in the performing arts world, though CPA seems to be missing out on most of the art school competitive freakouts you’ve seen before. We get four POVs from students during their senior year at CPA: former child actor Carter Harrison, future superstar in her own mind Sophie Jenkins, child composing prodigy Ethan Quinn, and the humble yet wickedly talented songwriter Emme Connelly. They each have clearly defined personal stories that interweave and connect. However, Emme creeps into all the other POVs more than the others (since she was Sophie’s childhood best friend, Carter’s newfound friend/motivator, and Ethan’s love interest). I think it works well since Emme was also a charming protagonist.
Carter & Sophie’s stories are not the deepest or most original, as a child actor questioning whether he wanted to continue and a cutthroat drama queen trying to glom her way to stardom, but each is focused enough to keep the reader’s attention. Carter’s struggle to leave his acting life behind and embrace his artistic side held my attention because I sincerely wanted him to succeed. I also liked Eulburg’s subtle touch of writing all dialogue in Carter’s POV as a script, as if he’d been an actor for so long that his thoughts were in script form. Sophie plays an excellent bad girl, only occasionally dipping into obvious evil mustache twirling. Her saving grace is that she’s featured just enough to not distract from more important stories.
Ethan’s tale essentially revolves around Emme- begging her to stand up to Sophie, staring in awe as she unleashed her inner Rock Goddess, struggling to reveal his true feelings. It is quite lovely to see Emme through the lens of Ethan, to truly appreciate how much she had grown and matured in their 4 years together. He makes mistakes, but it’s all to deal with his inner pain, of course! At least Emme deserves the treatment. She’s charismatic and humble, emerging from her shell in her last year at CPA. She takes tons of chances, and you cheer for her along the way. Plus, she & Ethan are in an awesome band with underdeveloped but delightful characters Jack and Ben. I love their interaction as the members of The Undertones, CPA’s own band of rockin’ misfits. They have an easy rapport, a dynamic that only exists between fellow bandmates. They also truly care about each other, which is clearly evident in the way they deal with Ethan’s “issues.”
If you’re in the mood for a quick little trip into the lighter side of life at a performing arts school, pick up Take a Bow.