Here’s my review of My Life, the Theater, and Other Tragedies by Allen Zadoff.

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Checkouts: None, but it was recently added to the collection
Typical reader: Teens involved in theater – there’s not really anything at the school, but the community has a vivacious youth theater program
Source: Superiorland Preview Center

Synopsis: High school sophomore Adam Zeigler is a member of his high school’s theater crew, and loves working lights behind (or rather, above) the scenes.  During the production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, however, he receives more attention than he ever wanted, and must learn to be courageous enough to face his fears, stand up to peer pressure, and talk to girls.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

This is a really good coming-of-age novel.  It’s very much a “slice of life,” realistic fiction piece, almost falling into my palate cleansing “gentle reads” category.  There’s some language though, and teen relationship situations. Adam Zeigler is a complex teen with plenty of problems, ranging from acne to mourning his father, who was killed in a car accident two years prior.

I enjoyed the cast of characters in this book.  The protagonist narrator is complex, like I said, and so are the people he interacts with.  There’s diversity – his best friend “Reach” is Indian, and Mr. Apple, the drama teacher, is gay – but no one is stereotypical.  Mr. Apple was interesting, and his character was as round as his figure.  Adam’s nemesis of sorts, Derek, is a rich kid who is directing the play and takes credit for Adam’s great ideas while blaming him for mishaps such as when a fuse blows.  This guy needs to be a politician when he grows up, he’s such a charismatic player.  (That’s not a compliment.)

This is definitely a character-based story.  There is a plot; it’s Adam’s life and how he needs to “grow a pair,” to quote Reach.  He starts out as a bit of a doormat, honestly – afraid of the dark, afraid to talk to girls, and totally willing to bow to both the societal norms of the theater crowd and to the whims of Derek.

A driving force in this novel is the social environment of high school.  Cliques and peer pressure play major roles in the story.  In Adam’s school, there’s some old rivalry between the theater crew and the actors; the two groups are not supposed to talk to each other beyond what’s necessary, and each looks down upon the other.  So of course Adam takes a liking to a beautiful actress he sees dancing in the hallway one afternoon after practice.  He also breaks more societal rules by talking to Grace, a crew member on the outs because she dated Derek.  A lot of the pressure comes not only from Derek, the wannabe ruler of the theater, but also from Reach.

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