If you had asked my eighteen-year-old self what I was going to be fifteen years later, I would have said “a musician.” I originally went to college as a music major (tuba, specifically). It was a pretty cut-throat world, even in a small liberal arts college in South Carolina. After two years of nearly working myself to death, I was completely burnt out. (At one point, I was practicing eleven different instruments during the same semester.) I changed my major and began a journey that would lead me to my true calling—school librarianship. Music, though, has always been and will always be a part of my life. I still play occasionally, and I’ve even been known to write a piece of music when the spirit moves me. (I even did a stint as a low brass instructor for a marching band when I still worked at a high school.) It should come as no surprise, then, that I enjoy books that combine my love of music with my love of young adult fiction. Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg is a wonderful example of this winning combo.
Take a Bow follows four high school students as they navigate the tough waters of a performing arts high school. Emme is a songwriter who seems content to play with her band and write songs for her best friend, Sophie. Sophie is a diva of the highest order who will stop at nothing to become a star. (She reminded me a little of Rachel Berry on Glee.) Carter is a former child star who is struggling with who he was, who everyone thinks he is, and who he wants to become. Ethan is a gifted musician and songwriter who can’t seem to stop himself from self-destructing…even though he’s damaging the only relationship that really means something to him.
Each of these young people is dealing with the pressure that comes with striving to be the best performer in their fields—auditions, college applications, and nerve-wracking performances. They’re also discovering just what they want out of life, and what they’ll do to get it. People will be hurt, friendships will end, delusions will be shattered, dreams will be crushed, and lives will change, but Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan will learn a lot about themselves, music, and life on their roads to success…and success won’t mean the same thing to all of them. They’ll learn that sometimes the spotlight isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…and that true friends are there whether you’re falling on your face or taking a bow.
I truly enjoyed Take a Bow, especially glimpsing what each character was experiencing. I totally identified with Emme. (I was a very shy performer unless I was with a group.) I loathed Sophie, and I couldn’t wait for Emme to really see the truth about her. I rooted for both Carter and Ethan to get what they wanted (especially Ethan). This is a perfect book for music, theater, and even art nerds. It provides readers with a fairly accurate look at the competitive world of the performing arts. It’s a little like Glee, but a lot more realistic. (I love Glee, but I have no illusions that high school students break out into song in the halls or that the same three teachers seem to be involved in absolutely everything.)
If you’d like to learn more about Take a Bow and author Elizabeth Eulberg, visit http://www.elizabetheulberg.com/. You can also like the author’s Facebook page or follow her on Twitter @ElizEulberg. I’ve read two of her books so far (Take a Bow and Prom & Prejudice), and I look forward to reading many more!