author : gabrielle predergast
pages : [hardcover] 288
favorite character : raphaelle
what’s special about this book : it’s written completely in verse and told very beautifully
Sixteen year old Raphaelle is that girl who says the wrong thing, who crosses the wrong person, who has the wrong hair, the wrong body, the wrong attitude, the totally wrong clothes. She can’t do anything right, except draw, but she draws the wrong pictures. When her father moves the family to a small prairie city, Raphaelle wants to leave behind the misfit rebel, the outcast, the vengeful trouble-maker she was. Reborn as “Ella,” she plans fit in at her new school, while her perfect younger sister goes to the Catholic girls’ school and her emotionally fragile mother looks for a job.
But Ella might just be a different kind of misfit. She’s drawn to a brooding boy in her art class, Samir, and expresses her confused feelings in an explicit artwork. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the horrendous fallout spreads though Ella’s life like an uncontrollable disease. Ella is expelled from school and faces pornography charges, her mother is hospitalized, her sister fails all her classes, and her distant father finally notices something is wrong.
I love novels in verse and Audacious stands out in its own right because of Raphaelle, our wonderful leading lady. Every character in this book has his or her own flaws, including Raphaelle. She wants to fit in. She wants to get over the past. She wants to ignore everything that’s wrong with her family so that she can focus on fixing herself instead. Sometimes she makes the wrong choices. Sometimes things turn out horribly for her. But she’s real, and fun to read, and I couldn’t wait to read on and see what else was going to happen with her.
I do think that this book tried to take on a lot of issues all at once and maybe it got stretched a little too thin in places. That’s about the only complaint that I can think of because, otherwise, it was so beautifully written and captivating that I didn’t care much about how long it dwelt on a particular plot point or feature.
I read the summary a while ago, just before I got the book, and didn’t reread it beforehand. That gave Ella’s story a little more suspense because I genuinely couldn’t tell where the plot might have been going. Ella is trying to figure herself out and I liked how I as the reader was also trying to do the same thing, looking through her thoughts and actions and trying to determine what had happened to her in the past and why she acts and thinks rebelliously when at the same time some part of her just wants to blend into the background and be normal. I feel like everybody has these two warring sides within them, though in Ella it’s more obvious a problem than it is for most people.
There were so many great characters in this book-Samir and his sister, Ella’s art teacher and her disabled daughter, Ella’s entire family-that I can still remember clearly and who all had an impact on Ella’s way of thinking. She changed because of or in spite of people and I think I learned something along with her.
This is a quick read even though it contains several issues within it. I’d recommend it to anyone, including people who love verse novels or who are looking for a quick, insightful read.