Sadye is sick and tired of boring old Ohio, where everyone seems to effortlessly fit in - everyone but her. When Demi moves to her school, she finds a kindred spirit who shares her love of musicals, theater, song and dance. Finally she has a friend who understands her - and when they are both accepted into a rigorous summer theater program, Sadye feels as though her dreams have come true.
When she gets to camp, though, she finds that she is one among many supremely talented people - most of whom are much more experienced than she is. She counts on her friendship with Demi to anchor her and give her confidence, but Demi - finally able to be himself, sheds his invisibility and shines as himself, gay and black and full of stage presence. Sadye find herself loving camp, but also feeling that she doesn't quite measure up. Despite making new friends and having the new experiences she's been craving, the summer isn't turning out to be at all like she'd expected.
This is the second book I've read by E. Lockhart - the first was The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, which I adored. So maybe my expectations were a little too high for this one, or maybe my experience might have been different had I read the book rather than listening to the audio version. But I am sorry to say that I found it a bit disappointing. I found myself losing sympathy for Sadye as the story went along - she whines so much, and while she is very honest in her narration, that honesty was distancing rather than endearing. She is argumentative with the teachers, petty and jealous of her fellow campers, and her focus never seemed to be on how to apply herself and expand and develop her talent. Yes, it is tough for her that Demi doesn't need her like he used to, and that she didn't have a very good audition - but after a while I felt like shaking her. This camp was what she wanted, what she's been dreaming about for years, but she just doesn't get it - nor does she seem to want to get it.
Don't get me wrong - there a plenty of wonderful things about this novel - particularly the way it is so steeped in the trappings of theater and musicals in particular. Teens who enjoy acting will love this - and it will definitely broaden their horizons and send them running to check out the many theater productions that are mentioned. I loved that her mother is deaf, and that that is simply a part of Sadye's life - it's not the point of the book, but it's part of who she is. I also enjoyed Sadye's relationships with her roommates, and how they developed.
Sadye does change and grow throughout this story, and the ending, while not entirely satisfying to me, was realistic and will definitely have readers stopping to think at the close of the story. I will definitely be checking out more books by E. Lockhart, even though this one did not work as well for me as The Disreputable History. It very well may work for you, though - and I'd love to know what you think if you've read it, too.
Dramarama by E. Lockhart; narrated by Kate Reinders (Brilliance Audio, 2008)
Also reviewed at:
Bookshelves of Doom: "Yes, it's a book that theater-mad teens will love. But not just them -- because it is, at its heart, it is about the evolution of a friendship and about figuring out Who You Are."
A Chair, a Fireplace & a Tea Cozy: "Sadye tells her story with an incredible amount of honesty about her own insecurities, fears, and jealousies which is so refreshing; she is a likable character who admits to bad and negative feelings."
Bildungsroman: "In E. Lockhart's best novel to date, she delivers a solid, realistic storyline and peppers it with glorious lyrics, backstage rivalry, and plenty of play and film references."