Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Audrey A-muse-d Me

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
4Q 4P; J/S (Gr. 9+, language and a few sexual references)

If you're looking for a fun book that will make you laugh, this is the one to grab. It's one of my favorites of the year. (I know, I've been saying that a lot lately. What can I say? A lot of really good books came out in the fall/winter of 2008!)

When Audrey breaks up with her boyfriend Evan, she expects that he'll be hurt. But she doesn't expect that he'll ask her if she'll still come to hear his band that night, and she doesn't expect that his band will debut a new song that night -- a song about their break up called "Audrey, Wait!" The absolute last thing she expects, though, is that that song will become a huge hit and make her famous. How horribly embarrassing! She could kill Evan!

Suddenly, everywhere she goes, people are staring, pointing, and taking pictures. Everywhere she goes, she hears, "That's Audrey! She's the one that song is about!" For crying out loud, kids are cutting school to go to her school to see her! They're lining up to see her at the Scooper Dooper (doubly embarrassing, since it's the suckiest afterschool job a girl could have). They're even writing about her on message boards on the web! They're blaming her for the breakup, even though Evan was so wrapped up in himself that she could tell him her cat was on fire, and he'd just say, "Cool. So, we've got a gig on Friday night." They don't even know her, but suddenly what she wears starts fashion trends. (And then, of course, people start snarking about how out of style she is!) It's crazy! They're crazy! And it's all driving Audrey crazy.

Of course, there are some perks. She goes to a concert and gets invited upstairs to the VIP section. She even makes out with the lead singer of one of her favorite bands. But um...that doesn't work out so well, actually. To put it mildly.

People are sending her free stuff, too. What girl wouldn't want free cosmetics? Or use of a really cool BMW? Who wouldn't want to star in her own reality show? Her best friend Victoria thinks it's all great and thinks Audrey is nuts for not wanting to take advantage of everything she's being offered. But Victoria's not the one everyone's looking at. Victoria's not the one that the paparazzi are chasing. It's not Victoria's love life that's suffering.

Oh, did I forget to mention James? James is one of those guys who's really easy to overlook. He's tall, geeky, and waaaaaay too into his job at the Scooper Dooper. He's a dork. At least, that's what Audrey thinks at first. But on second thought, dorks are surprisingly cute. Hot, even. And...whoa! Surprisingly good kissers. If they could just get a few minutes alone somewhere a little more romantic than the freezer of the Scooper Dooper. Just one more reason that fame stinks! Because if there's one thing that Audrey doesn't want to wait for, it's another kiss from James.

Quotes for your reading pleasure:

...But it wasn't all bad, of course. I mean, I had loved him, I really had. There were better times, the quiet moments when no one was talking and even our breath was the same, rising and falling under our tent of blankets like we were made to breathe with each other, for each other. It's funny how bed and pillows and covers can change a conversation. Words turn quiet and you mean more and say less. It's like you can build your own little world, Population 2.
Evan would play with my hair and wrap it over his wrist and reel me toward him until our lips touched. They were small moments but I could only hold them like water in my hands before he was slipping away, pulled back by melodies or friends or rehearsals, leaving my hands empty and my heart too full to hold alone.

Victoria paused and I could tell she was trying not to smile. "Did you just say 'frolic'?"
"Is it not a word?"
"Who the hell says 'frolic'?"
I spun the lock on my locker and waited for it to stick like it always did on 33. "I say frolic," I told her. "And more people should."
"They should say frolic or actually frolic?"

(Audrey, needing something to keep her hands and mind occupied during school so she can pretend not to notice the staring or hear kids calling "Audrey, wait!" in the halls, has braided her hair in lots and lots of tiny little braids.)
[Victoria] was giving me the fish eye. "What's up with your hair?"
"Oh, um..." I reached up and fingered a braid. "Nervous habit."
"It's sort of like Bob Marley meets Pippi Longstocking."
"That's not a compliment, is it?"
"Hell, no."

"Audrey." Now Victoria was using her please-don't-f**k-with-me-or-so-help-me-God-you-will-regret-it voice. (She's gonna make an awesome mom one day.) "Get over here and talk to her. She's a reporter, not a Dementor."

(Audrey's parents are setting some new ground rules, for her own safety, since Audrey's fame is getting her a lot of unwanted attention.)
"We're not trying to ruin your life, you know."
"Yeah, I know."
"Because if we ruin your life, then you're going to be one of those kids that lives in the den and never moves out, and your father and I have plans to retire someday. It's not in our best interest to ruin your life. We'd like to see Tahiti."

If kissing Simon had been like wildfire, kissing James was something smaller and stronger. It was birthday and prayer candles, ones made for good thoughts and strong hopes and wishes and promises.

I grabbed her by her hoodie strings. "Victoria," I hissed. "We kissed."
That stopped her short. "Who kissed?"
"We did."
"We did?"
"No! James and me, in the freezer at work last night!"
[several lines skipped]
Victoria squealed with delight. "I knew it! I knew it! Oh, can I do the I-told-you-so dance? Please? I'm so good at it."

I loved Audrey. You have to admire her determination not to let the fact that everyone else thinks she's famous/special affect the way she lives her life. She's also got personality to spare. She definitely gave off an "I'd enjoy knowing her" vibe. I also loved Victoria and the girls' relationship. It felt real. I also liked Victoria's boyfriend Jonah and the dynamics between the three of them. James starts out a little pale in comparison, but he comes into his own in the latter half of the book. I enjoyed his sense of humor and liked him for being able to roll with the punches of Audrey's fame. And it's also a welcome change that Audrey likes and respects her parents and vice versa. (And hey, they're funny too!) In other words, these are characters who feel like someone you not only could know, but would like to know, in a situation that is absolutely believable, if you just squint a little and cock your head at the right angle. Audrey, Wait!, you rock.

(I can't tag this as BBYA yet, but it has been nominated. I'll eat my hat if it doesn't make the final list.)

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