Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: When the Stars Go Blue

Caridad Ferrer. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2010. 324 pp.
Rating: Decent

Book Blurb: Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before.

But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer in jeopardy.

The heat of the summer matched the flame of their passion.

Soledad is a trained dancer. Ambitious, focused, and determined to make a professional ballet company, despite lacking the typical surreal body type. Throwing caution to the wind, Soledad joins Jonathan Crandall, a fellow classmate, on a summer tour with Miami's all male drum corps. A summer of dance, music, and romance tragically ends a once sizzling, dynamic duo.

At the first sentence, "Turning, soaring, feeling the hum of the strings like a caress along my skin, the notes from the brass and woodwinds swirling around my body like a cape," I was hooked. Shortly after, however, the novel began to fizzle out.  Soledad's Cuban American heritage spurs the necessity of Spanish words and phrases in the novel; nevertheless, I thought many of the words were ill-placed and at times distracting, plus the overuse of italics didn't help. The plot hinging entirely on Jonathan's and Soledad's co-dependency on each other turned me off. Every time I read such sentences like, "My heart broke just a little at that. He wanted so much to feel like he came first for somebody. To matter more than anything" (124), my eyeballs rolled upward. 

At almost any reference of Jonathan, his intense manner is mentionedhis gaze, his touch, his devotion, his music, his love, his dedication, his jealously, his emotions. To constantly live in such an extreme state, poses potential risks unknown. Ferrer did an excellent job in building Jonathan's character, prepping the reader for the climax. As the story moved along, Jonathan's and Taz's infatuation with Soledad increasingly became melodramatic. Although Taz seemed to be a good guy, he came across to me as a stalker. Notwithstanding the inclusion of profanity in many young adult books, I felt that there was too much offensive language when speaking to parents and adults. Also, the numerous editing errors detracted from the story some. 
Overall, When the Stars Go Blue is a decent read. I would recommend to die-hard band or dancer teens.  

Favorite Quote

" 'Carmen' as in gypsy, opera, ballet, exceptionally misguided role for Beyoncé to play in a really cheesy & unimaginative reworking of a classic. Right?" (7)

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