You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche

You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche. November 1, 2016. Razorbill, 352 p. ISBN: 9781101998939.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 910.

It’s always been you—you know that, right?

At a prestigious New York City performing arts school, five friends connect over one dream of stardom. But for Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second-semester, Senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses between them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

An epic ensemble piece in the vein of Fame and Let’s Get Lost, You in Five Acts is a eulogy for a friendship—the heartbreaks, the betrayals, the inside jokes, the remember-whens. And the tragedy that changed everything.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes; Drugs; Underage drinking; Racist violence; Homophobic slur

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (September 1, 2016)
Five teenagers live for their art in this coming-of-age story of achievement, ambition, and heartache.LaMarche’s latest novel (Don’t Fail Me Now, 2015, etc.), which chronicles the tribulations of a group of friends in their senior year at a prestigious New York arts conservatory, is a pleasing mix of Fame and Gossip Girl. Each character narrates a section, addressing it to the titular “you,” who changes depending on the narrator: Joy, the black ballerina and a passionate perfectionist terrified of failure; Liv, a Puerto Rican actress whose party-girl ways have tragic consequences; Ethan, the nerdy, white Russian immigrant’s son, a playwright with Broadway ambitions; Dave, a white teen celebrity desperate for a fresh start away from his mistakes in LA; and Diego, a Latino dancer for whom ballet is a ticket to a better life. The author knows her subject matter well, and she effectively captures the essence of teenagerhood, from the hormones and the slang to the heartbreak and paralyzing self-doubt. As in a Shakespeare play, everyone is in love with the wrong person, and it takes most of the novel and some dramatic events for everyone’s feelings to be sorted out correctly. Of the five storylines, Joy’s—in which she copes with body shaming and other indignities that have kept the rarefied world of ballet largely off-limits to black women—is the most compelling. Given the current political climate, the characters’ struggles with the white establishment create a poignant and timely socially conscious narrative. (Fiction. 14-18)

School Library Journal (October 1, 2016)
Gr 8 Up-Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan, and Dave are students at Janus Academy, the highest-rated arts school in New York City. They are all friends, but more than that, they have one thing in common-they are all tired. Joy is tired of struggling to be recognized as a serious contender for prima ballerina by her parents and teachers. Diego is sick of always being seen as just a friend-especially by the one girl he wants the most. Liv yearns for some escape from her daily life. Ethan has had enough of the girl of his dreams always looking through him. Dave is tired of his past successes defining his future. None of the five realize that their world is changing, and it’s all coming down to one pivotal moment that spirals out of their control. LaMarche crafts the novel in five parts, each narrated by one of the main characters. The protagonists are diverse, intelligent, and solidly teen in their perspectives. Each voice is distinct and recognizable. From the beginning, the story is counting down to a culminating event, and the author is able to develop suspense but also keep the book humorous and romantic. The conclusion is heartrending and timely but also unexpected and fresh. Different points of view keep the work moving at a fast pace and add to its compulsive readability. VERDICT Purchase for all libraries that serve teens.-Morgan Brickey, Arlington Public Library, TX

About the Author

Una LaMarche is the author of two young adult novels, Five Summers and Like No Other, and Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer, a collection of humor essays based on some of her more questionable life choices. She is also a contributing writer for The New York Observer and The Huffington Post, and blogs at The Sassy Curmudgeon. Una lives in Brooklyn with her husband and son.

Her website is www.unalamarche.com.

Teacher Resources

Writing Tips from Una LaMarche

Around the Web

You in Five Acts on Amazon

You in Five Acts on JLG

You in Five Acts on Goodreads

 

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