Audrey is an ordinary teenager. She lives in Southern California. She works in an ice cream shop, loves her cat, and has strong relationships with her parents and her over-the-top best friend, Victoria. Her life is ordinary, that is, until she breaks up with her aspiring musician boyfriend, Evan. After she ignores his final plea to her ("Audrey, wait!"), Evan writes a new song about her. That song becomes a hit, and Audrey finds herself reluctantly famous. Her life is turned upside down, and she learns the upside, and the downside, to fame.
Audrey, Wait!, by Robin Benway, is a fun, fast-paced book. I read it in a single sitting, laughing along the way. It reminded me a bit of Melissa Walker's Violet on the Runway (reviewed here), another tale of a girl thrust into fame, and her subsequent mis-steps and strained relationships. It also has a ripped from the headlines feel, as in "what would someone like Lindsey Lohan say about the paparazzi? What would be her side of the story?"
But what really makes Audrey, Wait! work is the authenticity and humor of Audrey's wry, first person voice. I first flagged this passage, from page 4:
"... Victoria asked. By now she was on her third Diet Coke and I could see caffeine starting to shoot out of her eyes."
This passage from Chapter 1 gives a pretty good sense of Audrey's voice:
"You know how in movies, the room will be really crowded and noisy and someone will say something that causes everyone's heads to whip around and stare at that person? Let me tell you something: That happens in real life, too. And it happened to me when Evan said that. Two hundred people in the room, four hundred eyes (actually 399 -- Jake Myers lost one in a fishing accident when he was six), and all of them were burning into me."
I love the bit about the guy with the lost eye - it made me laugh. Or how about this:
"The bell rang and she glanced up at the ceiling. (Why does everyone do that when the bell rings? Have you ever noticed? It's like we expect the ceiling to come crashing down on our heads.)" (Chapter 19)
Is that true? I haven't been in school for a long time, so I can't say for sure, but it feels true. Anyway, I enjoyed Audrey's little asides, and I liked her, even when she was doing things that were clearly mistakes.
Although Amazon lists this as a book for 9 to 12 year olds, I think that this is definitely a high school book. There are profanities and occasional references to drug use, teen sex, and underage drinking, though none of these are the point of the story (and the drug use is frowned upon). Audrey herself feels like a normal teenager, and we have a sense that she is going to land on her feet because she has strong underlying values. She cares what her parents think, even if she doesn't always do her laundry. She adores music, is bored by school, and gets giddy over a certain red-haired boy. In short, she feels real. And that, I think, is going to be the key to this book's success with teen readers, especially girls. They'll be able to identify with Audrey, and will be able to experience, through her, a brush with fame. Without having to deal with that pesky paparazzi. Highly recommended for teen readers.
Publication Date: April 2008
Source of Book: A review copy from the publisher. Quotes are taken from the review copy, and may not reflect the final, printed book.
Other Blog Reviews: Liv's Book Reviews, The Inkblotter, The Compulsive Reader, Teen Book Review, A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy
Other Links: I learned from Sellers Library Teens about an online video contest that Razorbill is running related to this book. You download the lyrics, and record your version of the song from the title. Doesn't that sound fun? Also, Book Publishing News writes about the contest. See also Robin Benway's blog, where she describes her book tour for the release of Audrey, Wait!
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.