Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.
OPINION: 4 STARS
Take a Bow is a great blend of contemporary romance with the cut throat world of arts and performance. Shifting between the perspectives of four teens, each with their own goals and desires, and all at the same school focused on the arts, this one puts a nice twist on going through life and figuring things out. While the voices didn’t always sound distinct enough for me, particularly the two males, and parts of the book lagged for me, there was still an endearing undercurrent that kept me engaged.
Emme is my favorite of the four characters, someone who prefers to stay in the background rather than be in the limelight. A bit of a door mat at times, and blindingly trusting of some people, there are definitely times I wanted to shake sense into her, and yet, Eulberg writes her in such a way that honestly, I couldn’t help but appreciate the way she was. Emme wants to see the good in people, and though she doesn’t throw her trust around, it’s also very hard to lose it once it’s earned. She grows through the most notable growth of the group, and watching her changes was one of my favorite parts of the book. She is deeply caring and truly talented, and the mix set against a backdrop of betrayal is refreshing.
Carter is also a favorite, a guy who has been a star plenty yet resents it in his own way. While he has some misconceptions about things, he is finally at the point of wanting to do things for him, rather than others. Though he’ll stand up for himself, he is far from cocky or arrogant, and he truly is the kind of boy any girl would be lucky to know, even just as friends. Caring and understanding, there is great depth to Carter that shines throughout the book.
Ethan is an interesting character, one who has his own sort of problems and though I didn’t always completely understand what was driving him, the fallout was still brutal at times. A brilliant songwriter with intense natural talent, he is who many people want to be and yet, he throws plenty of it away, or close to. With some not so great crutches, and somewhat of an inability to cope, Ethan is a very relatable character in the ways that count. A bit of a mess, but also one of the best friends anyone could have, Ethan is endearing in all the right ways.
Then there’s Sophie, a character that likely will not leave such a great taste in reader’s mouths. I most definitely wanted to smack her more than once, and at times found her utterly appalling, and yet I understand and can even appreciate who she is and how she got to be that way. She adds a lot to the story, things that readers need to be in her head to really get, and in truth, I fully back the way her character arc played out.
Despite the four characters being so arts focused, be it the music composition that Emme and Ethan are going after, singing and performance that Sophie is craving, or the acting that Carter has known all his life, this book is still completely relatable and easy to get into. In plenty of ways, it’s like these characters are at any high school, and their trials through friendship and love play strongly into the overall story. With a stunning side cast that stands out in plenty of ways, and an easy flow to the writing, Take a Bow is a great read.
My only problems with this book were the few places the plot seemed to lag, and I admit, the ending didn’t satisfy me as much as I would have liked. There was an almost abrupt feel to the way things ended, with no closure in some aspects. While I can appreciate that their high school stories are closed, with plenty left to come for these talented teens, it felt almost forced rather than natural. Apart from this, and a certain lack of variance in the voice and styles of the individual characters, I really enjoyed this read and definitely recommend it.
Reading level: Ages 12 and up
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publication Date: April 1, 2012