…On Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

Posted June 24, 2012 by Asheley in Uncategorized / 16 Comments

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
Published by Viking Juvenile
Publish Date: October 13, 2011
458 Pages
Source:  Library 

When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she’s deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem’s muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she’s chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent. –(summary from Goodreads) 

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

My Thoughts: A few days ago I talked about another contemporary verse novel that was not the most uplifting of books but yet I loved it so much. In the comments, I noticed that a few people said they didn’t think it was the book for them and while I understand this, I still want people to give verse novels a try! So on a whim I decided to throw another one into the mix for this contemporary month event. Voila! Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe – it’s not nearly as heavy and it has dancing in it!

The first thing you need to know is this:
This is not my first verse novel.
This IS, however, my first verse novel that
wasn’t gut-wrenching, in-your-face intense. 

Audition was actually almost a little on the lighter side, comparatively speaking. Don’t get me wrong, friends – there were some things in there that were not whipped-cream-and-cherries-on-top light – but they weren’t doubled-over, oh-my-goodness intense either. Now that I’ve read both, I still love them both. There’s something just absolutely amazing about a free verse novel that is just intensely different than a prose novel. 

Basically, I didn’t read this one with my mouth hanging wide open, clutching my stomach in disbelief, or with my hand over my mouth in shock. Audition just didn’t contain that sort of story. It was really kind of nice. 

The second thing you need to know is this:
This girl loves to dance.
If you follow me on Twitter, you may already know this. 
Can I dance? Nope. But I make it a daily practice!
Why? Because it makes me happy. 

How does this relate to Audition? I’m so glad you asked that question! 

Sara leaves her home way up in the Northeastern US to go to a prestigious dance academy in New Jersey where she’ll learn dance for real because she’s thinking she wants to pursue dance as a career. Sara goes to school every day and then leaves directly from school to attend dance practice for several hours, every day. InAudition, I read about Sara’s practices, her routines, her struggles, her victories, and everything she goes through and learns about herself in this process. We read through approximately one year of Sara’s life. 

I’ve never actually read a book about dance schools or dancing before. I know of a few out there, but this was my first. I’m not a trained dancer, I just like to bust a move – there’s a difference, you see. I was fascinated by this dance culture, by the terminology, by the movement and the music and the cut-throat competition behind it all.  

Now, going one step further…I enjoyed reading about it in verse format. No fluffy speech and extra verbage. It was just the words and the dancing. I loved it. 

The third thing you need to know is this:
If you haven’t tried a verse novel,
I’d love for you to pick up one and give it a try. 

There is something different and interesting and fun and strange and satisfying about reading free verse, you guys. When you read the intense books, like any of Ellen Hopkins’ books or Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams, the verse format makes it easier somehow if you have any reservations at all about the tough subject matter. I personally am not the biggest fan of the tough issue books – my blogger friends know me well enough to tell me when a book just isn’t for me – but I know that if the same book came in verse, I could probably handle it better. Does that make sense? However, there are books out there like this one or anything by Lisa Schroeder that the rest of you guys would probably like just fine. And there are other verse novel too. Ask in the comments for recommendations if you want to try one! Some people won’t like them, but I love them. You’ll never know if you don’t at least try!


Sara is a great character that, interestingly enough, becomes developed pretty fully even through the sparse language in the verse. The language used by the author is really beautiful and describes all of the events of the story really well. In my mind, I was watching Sara dance, picturing each move as she danced with or without her dance partner. 
Today he will life me into the air,
Hold my hand,
Support my back,
And make me more beautiful
Than I could ever be alone Kindle 671/2931

There is also more to the story than the dancing! Sara is in school, so she struggles to maintain her classes and studying while dancing – this part is obvious. But, as we can guess from the cover of the book and the description, she soon falls for a guy. But not just any guy, this guy just happens to be a dancer as well – a choreographer with her group. Sara begins hanging out with Remington, going over to his apartment, spending time alone with him, and soon her priorities shift a bit. So we start watching Sara question exactly which things are important to her.

While Sara questions everything – dancing, friendship, love, her relationship with Remington – she begins to write, and very well. Sara realizes that she loves writing a lot. Maybe as much as dancing. 

Audition is the story of Sara taking a year of her life away from home to figure out exactly what it is she wants to do with her life. She isn’t in college yet – she’s attending high school in another state, a rare and wonderful opportunity. Sara tries out a few things, has some great life experiences, and ultimately makes a decision toward a path that she believes is the best for her. 

The fact that all of this is gleaned from a verse novel – and a debut at that – is amazing to me. I loved this book. There is so much power behind the words of this author. She made her words beautiful in the places where they should be, and yet she used her same words to show the real world of the dancers – the jealousy, the extreme dieting, the blisters, the damage to their young bodies. Every idea and image we read is perfectly portrayed with just the exact amount of words, as is the way with verse, and I thought it was brilliant. I loved it.Audition was a great verse novel for someone who wants to try one that isn’t too heavy.

Audition will appeal to fans of:

YA ContemporaryNovels-in-Verse 
Romance – no triangle, slow-to-develop

Stories Containing: Dance, Creative Writing
Recommended for Older YA Readers & Adult YA-Loving Readers

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
is currently available for purchase.


Have you ever read any verse novels?
Do you have any favorite verse authors?


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


16 responses to “…On Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe

  1. I recently read Sold by Patricia McCormick and loved it, even though it was one of those horrifying verse books. I'm not crazy about dance (mostly because I can't!), but this sounds like an interesting read. Great review & thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • You know, you're the second person that has mentioned Sold to me. The other person said it was pretty intense, but I still want to read it because I can handle stuff like that much better in verse. Thanks for the mention!

      I liked the ease of this one, not being quite so horrifying and intense. It was nice.

    • YES! Read Sold!! I think that would be considered contemporary? Though it takes place in a culture that is so different that it doesn't feel like now. Although intense and painful (especially because it is real life for so many people), there is beauty in the story too.

  2. I've never read a verse novel, but I definitely would be open to trying one out. This sounds like an interesting novel to start with – plus, it's about a girl who dances AND writes, which I think is really awesome!

    • OH ALEXA! No verse? You should try one!

      This is a great place to start, or maybe a Lisa Schroeder novel. Maybe starting out with the overly-intense ones might be a little much for a first verse book??

      Definitely try one, though. You'd probably like them.

  3. My favorite thing about verse things is how fast you can read them; the fact that this is on the lighter side should make that doubly true because I won't have to pause to mentally recover from the emotions.

  4. Okay so clearly I should have read this. I love ballet and dance in general. And the story sounds good. That quote you included is beautiful. What other verse novels would you recommend?

    Have you seen the movie Center Stage? The description of this book reminds me of that movie – some of the themes sound similar (though the execution is very different). For some reason I keep thinking of that whenever I see this book.

    • Lauren, for you, I would recommend this book if you can get ahold of it (didn't you say you checked it out once before?). I also would try to find something by Lisa Schroeder. I have read Chasing Brooklyn by her and her language is so beautiful it felt like I was floating on clouds and eating cotton candy while I was reading, no joke. So beautiful is the verse, even when the story has a scene or two that may want you to tear up. She has other fantastic ones that I haven't gotten to yet, but I'd start with her.

      Ellen Hopkins – I LOVE x 10000, but her stuff is hardcore. Like, it's no joke. But like I've said several times, I can take it because 1) it's verse and easier 2) not only it is sparse and not too fluffy, but it is arranged beautifully on the page so it is almost artful and 3) she writes her stories (although they are TOUGH) sometimes from personal experience from family members. I ADORE her books. But knowing how you feel about feeling stressed about characters, I'd start with Audition or a Schroeder book and move toward a Hopkins book.

      There is also Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay, which I haven't read yet, but it's on my list.

      I haven't seen Center Stage, but I read another review that mentioned this same movie with regard to this book! I need to watch it.

  5. I have read one verse novel and it took me awhile to get into it. I really liked it but I don't know if I would read another one. Why, I really don't know. It's just not for me somehow I feel lost with the connection,maybe?!? Thanks for the review. It's nice you like to dance. It's good to have some action hobby!

  6. I am not a trained dancer either, but love busting a move, especially to good songs.

    AND OMG YES TO READING BOOKS ABOUT DANCE. Like, I think watching professional dance on tv is boring, but I will read the heck out of a YA dance book. Sigh.

    And yes, this would be an awesome book for verse newbies.

  7. I couldn't stop reading. I believe that's about the best review anyone can give a book. From the moment Sara wins her ballet scholarship, through her rocky entry into a new world of competition and romance, to her choice of a new path in life, Stasia Kehoe's prose dazzled me.

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