- You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-10199-893-9 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-10199-895-3 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7-10
Joy’s determined to be one of the rare African-Americans who manages to be a principal dancer in a ballet company; Diego’s a dancer who’d give it all up to be with Joy; Ethan’s a budding playwright, but he’s really focused on Liv, an actress whose drama is playing out more offstage than on as she spirals into a devastating addiction to pills. Each character attending the racially and socioeconomically diverse performing arts school is developed through a multi-chapter, first-person section of his or her own, addressed to the significant “you” of their individual romantic interests, and each individual chapter ends with an ominous hint of some dire tragedy to come. The tragedy unfortunately is a cliché, and readers likely will [End Page 270] not be as sympathetic to Liv as the book seems to be, given that her addiction is both cause and catalyst of what takes place. As an obvious attempt to end on a redemptive note, Joy’s finale rings overly tidy and even somewhat flat given the depth and complexity of emotion throughout, but of course the sad truth is that life goes on and dreams get modified even when the saddest things happen. The emotionally manipulative consequence here is that they happen to the sweetest character, leaving less likable and more culpable characters unscathed. Readers who enjoy tangled relationship drama and tragic love stories may still appreciate the soapy twists, turns, and jetés.