My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women are merely players;”
So it seems in Eleanor Catton’s dazzling debut novel, The Rehearsal. “What am I?” one of the characters asks. The question of identity is explored in the intersecting plotlines involving a high school sex scandal, an acting institute, a burgeoning lesbian relationship, and lost love. It would be interesting to teach this book to girls in high school, especially since an all-girls’ academy is the primary setting. The desire to protect teens may not be the best thing for them. As the saxophone teachers says wearily to one of her student’s mothers:
[R]emember that these years of your daughter’s life are only the rehearsal for everything that comes after. Remember that it’s in her best interests for everything to go wrong. It’s in her best interests to slip up now, while she’s still safe in the Green Room...Don’t wait until she’s out in the savage white light of the floods, where everyone can see.
Catton’s novel is tightly written and keenly observant. She describes one student, a loner, as being “too bright for the slutty girls and two savage for the bright girls, haunting the edges and corners of the school like a sullen, disillusioned ghost and pursued by frightened vicious rumours that she is possibly probably gay.”
The structure is fantastic and experimental, just like a good teenage-hood should be.
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