Monday, April 2, 2012

Review: Take A Bow

Elizabeth Eulberg
Contemporary Young Adult
278 Pages
Scholastic Point
Available Now
Received from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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.

Take a Bow is a short but surprisingly emotional read, thrusting into the midst of a creative and performing arts school as four very different students try to find their way through their classes, their futures, and their individual relationships. The fact that there are four first-person point of views packed into an under three-hundred page story may cause some readers to balk initially–questioning whether or not there will be enough time to adequately connect to each character before reaching the last page–but Ms. Eulberg does an extremely impressive job of layering each character and giving them the means to pull a strong, visceral response from us however brief our sojourn into their heads and hearts. Watching as the relationships change between the four narrators as well as the side characters is entertainment at its finest, each one of them flawed and in various stages of recognizing those flaws so they may get out of their own way and grab onto the future that’s waiting just beyond their self-constructed walls.

Emme and Ethan are perhaps the two characters with whom we spend the most time, their relationship consisting of deep friendship (and unrequited love on Ethan’s part) the most emotional of the four threads woven together to create this beautiful patchwork of a story. Emme is endearingly naïve and a genuinely good person, always the first to help any of her friends should they need it, and utterly unsuspecting of any type of subterfuge or petty jealousy to the extent that we often want nothing more than to reach in and force her eyes open wide so she can see what everyone else around her already does. Her eyes do eventually open much to our immense relief, and once they’re open they remain blissfully clear and she never allows her vision to be clouded by a manipulative farce of a friend again. She goes from a meek, quiet young woman content to her place in the shadows to a strong and confident young woman who’s still plagued by nerves, but who no longer allows herself or those around her to stand in her way.

Ethan has our hearts from the opening pages, his feelings for Emme as obvious to us as Emme is oblivious, and we immediately enter into a love/hate relationship with him—loving his protectiveness of Emme while simultaneously hating that he protects her even from himself. His flaws are probably the darkest and most numerous, his self-destructive behavior a burden he bears not alone, but rather one he unintentionally shares with Emme and those who most care for him, weighing all of us down until our toes brush bottom and he begins to push off and drag us all back toward the surface. Despite his behavior, he is nothing if not worthy of redemption and affection, his clear love for Emme something painful and stunning at the same time as we honestly have no idea as to whether her feelings for him can be what he so desperately wants them to be.

Ethan and Emme are definitely the strongest of the four narrators, our time spent with Carter and Sophie not quite as complex or interesting as the maelstrom of emotions constantly swirling around the other two. Carter’s chapters are written in script-like form, something a bit jarring given the other three perspectives have no such clear distinction, and while we understand why it’s done that way given Carter’s entire life has been scripted for him, it seems just a touch out of place. Overall however, Ms. Eulberg has written a story rich with intriguing relationships where all the beauty and pain that accompanies change is laid before us in glorious detail.

Rating: 4/5


  1. I read Take a Bow last night and absolutely loved it! I think it's Elizabeth Eulberg's best novel yet. Your review captures exactly how I felt about Emme and Ethan. It's probably unlikely to ever happen, but I would be happy if there was a companion to the book so we could see what happens to the characters afterwards. I really didn't want the book to end. Thanks for the fabulous review, Jenny!

  2. Dude... seriously... I'm getting so *tired* of the 'I'm in love with my best-friend and EVERYONE knows it but HER! LOL

    I don't think four narrator's would be a good situation for me!!!

  3. WOW ,,, this book look good, first I like the cover then the story sound good too ,,, I will ADD it to my TBR pile now ,,, AWESOME REVIEW :)

  4. I WANT TO MARRY THIS BOOK. <3 It may not have been the most original with the relationship between Emme and Ethan, but I seriously adored every page of it! Since the book isn't that long, I was wondering if I'd be able to connect with them too but I didn't have a problem AT ALL. I loved all four of them (plus the the other two band members -- so funny!)!

    Beautiful, deserving, and awesome review, Jenny! I'm so happy that you fell in love with this book too! :') <3

  5. I'm so glad you liked this book. I really enjoyed Prom and Prejudice and The Lonely Hearts Club, so I have had my eye on this book. After reading your review, I will have to pick up a copy. Thanks for the great review!

  6. Liz - I really enjoyed it too, it was such a fun read. I would love a companion novel as well, it would be nice to follow up with them:)

    Ashley - I thought it worked in this case because Emme was kind of oblivious in general, she wasn't just unaware of Ethan. On her, the obliviousness was endearing (for me).

    Lilly - YAY! I thought it was fabulous:)

    Mimi - Hahhahaha, you're not alone. I may or may not have hugged it when I was done:) I adored Emme and Ethan and their band, such great characters:)

    Christina - It was such a nice break from some of the darker paranormals, I really loved it:)

  7. Poor girl, having to find out the hard way the dark side of human nature. I do love a good "arts" book and this sounds fantastic! Ethan seems like such an adorable guy--perfect for a girl like Emme.

  8. Oh yesss...this seems like a book for me....I love fun characters and simple sweet romances....:)

  9. Wow, 4 narrators?! That could be quite confusing to follow and I don't think I've encountered that before. Glad to know that the book wasn't confusing.

    I seem to read a lot of the "I'm in love with my bf but I'm scared to tell her because it might not work out. etc". Otherwise, I love the development of a strong female character so I'll look into reading this one.

    p.s. Did you know that the author is/was Stephenie Meyer's agent?

  10. Beautiful and helpful review as per usual, Jenny. It seems like every review I have read for this book has been one full of praise. I honestly can't wait to read it myself now! I do love it when a book manages to pull so many emotions from the reader. This definitely sounds like it will be worth the time and effort. :)

  11. This is on my reading list since I love Elizabeth Eulberg. I've always thought that this book would be about one main character and that would be Sophie since I'm guessing that its her on the cover.

  12. Mary - I thought it was a really fun book, and it had a dark enough edge to keep me really interested and invested in the outcome of the characters' lives:)

    Tina - I blew through this one in just a couple hours, loved it:)

    Rummanah - I know. It sounds like a lot and I wasn't sure it was going to work for me, but I felt like I did get to know each character pretty well. As much as I liked Carter, I could have done without his and Sophie's POVs, but their inclusion didn't detract from the story overall. And I had no idea she was Stephenie's agent! Very cool.

    Sam - Thank you! I take after you:) I just loved Ethan and Emme, they were adorable.

    Jenny - Nope, you get a taste of all four, but I thought she did a good job with each of them. I was never confused who I was with:)

  13. I've been very curious about this book. I'm glad that you really enjoyed it, I'll add it to my wish list.

  14. First Mimi and now you Jenny have praised this book.
    I want to meet Ethan and Esme. I love romances based on friendships and I am sure my heart will ache for Ethan as well. This sounds like a terrific read,

  15. Awwwww! Unrequited love... *sigh* Why does that always break my heart a little?

    You're opening, reminded me of a series I read a long time ago, *bangs head trying to remember* I think it was called the Shooting Stars series, and it was about 4 girls, who also had there own POVs, that go to a performing arts school, but it was more mystery/thriller than contemporary... OH Wait!! I remember, it was by VC Andrews. And it was most definitely a chilly tale. LOL

    Anyhoo, Ethan!!! I'm in love with him already. But, I don't want to love/hate him. Damn those self destructive tendencies. I'm kind of getting tired of those oh so obvious to everyone expect the love interest romances, but Ethan makes this one sound worth the read. Thanks for the review Jenny, I don't think I would have considered this a book I'd like otherwise. (*whispers* not a fan of the cover or title.) I know! I'm so lame.

  16. Sounds good :) I do wonder if that guy gets to pain instead. He really should do what he want to to :=)

  17. Oh Sweetie!! I want to read this one so bad! Although I don't usually pick of contemporary, this one sounds so much fun! I love the idea! Now, reading how much you enjoyed it it makes me even more excited!

    I feel already bad for Ethan, there is nothing more heartbreaking than loving someone that doesn't love you back! I hope he's getting a happy end!

  18. Jennifer - I did enjoy it, I didn't put it down once:)

    Heidi - Mimi and I tend to have the same opinions on books:) Ethan and Emme were adorable and painful at the same time, I really loved them.

    Missie - *sigh* Unrequited love is so hard isn't it? I don't know how Emme didn't see it, but she didn't see a lot of things so I tried to cut her some slack:)

    Linda - It was good!

    Danny - I usually don't pick up contemporary either, but it's a genre that's really growing on me. Every time I read one it makes me want to read another one:)

  19. Sometimes having that many changing POVs doesn't work for me in books, but I like that you mention the emotional aspect of Take a Bow. I love books that can tug at my heartstrings! I haven't quite committed to reading this one for sure yet, but I'm interested, and your review is definitely pointing me in the positive direction! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Jenny! :)

  20. I've seen some mixed reviews for this one, Jenny, but they've all said the multiple POVs are well done so I'll be giving this one a try. I like the sound of Emme's character development.

  21. I don't read much contemp, but considering this is a performing arts school, I may have to try it. I love it when the characters are creative. Usually draws me in. Despite Carter's scriptive type narrative (which I think would be jarring for me as well) it still sounds so interesting. Hm... I think I'll have to check this one out!

  22. I'm sort of on the fence about this one. I read Prom and Prejudice, and I thought it was okay, but not great. By and large my criticisms had to do with Eulberg's handling of the P&P adaptation, though, so it may be that I'm missing out. I will tentatively add it to my wishlist.

    Great review!

  23. I was considering skipping this one, because the synopsis just didn't grip me. But now that you've praised it...I'm not sure I can resist! :P I'm loving the sound of Emme's growth throughout the novel. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  24. Wow, that really is impressive that the author managed 4 distinct perspectives in such a short book! I can only imagine that the author would have to be really talented to pull that off.

  25. I've hardly heard anything about this book but you've convinced me to give this one a try, Jenny! I'm very intrigued by Ethan. He's a character that I want to read more than any of the others. Thanks for the review!

  26. Fantastic review! This sounds like my kind of book. The script chapters do sound a bit bizarre but if there's good characterization, I'll deal with just about anything. Adding it to my goodreads shelf.

  27. I'm so interested in this book! I was hoping to meet this author but I'm not sure. Thanks Jenny for sharing :)

  28. I'm so glad you liked this. I can't wait to read it. It will be hard to top Prom and Prejudice. I like that Eulberg seems to be doing very different things with each of her books. It shows she's growing and changing.

  29. I've been Hearing some really good this about this book. Since I'm really into the TV show the Voice, I'll give this book a try!

  30. I am so excited for this book! I have really enjoyed Eulberg's other two books and I adore performing arts stories so it already has a lot going for it in addition to the many rave reviews like yours.

  31. Take a Bow was an emotional, heartfelt story of a group of kids trying to find their way to who they really are. If you are a fan of contemporary or music this is one you will not want to miss!! I just can't put into words how much I loved Take a Bow, but I will say that if you are going to read a contemporary book this year, let it be this one!