Book: Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast, Orca Book Publishers, October 2013
Book Info: YA realistic fiction, review copy provided for Cybils, 336 pages.
About the Book:
Self-portrait of the artist as a teenage girl.
Sixteen-year-old Raphaelle says the wrong thing, antagonizes the wrong people and has the wrong attitude. 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 make a new start.
Reborn as “Ella,” she tries to fit in at her new school. She’s drawn to Samir, a Muslim boy in her art class, and expresses her confused feelings in explicit art. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the fallout spreads throughout Ella’s life, threatening to destroy her already-fragile family.
Told entirely in verse, Audacious is a brave, funny and hard-hitting portrait of a girl who embodies the word audacity.
I do tend to enjoy verse novels, so I was glad to get the chance to check out Audacious for Cybils. Raphaelle/Ella is a girl on the fringe who finds a home in art class and bonds with her classmate, Samir. They work on an art exhibit at school, and Ella hits a nerve with her explicit art. Audacious indeed. The pair forms an alliance in spite of cultural differences, family and school drama. The verse format is perfectly suited to this emotional story about bravery and finding your voice.
Raphaelle gets the chance to start over and escape the past. So why not start with a new name? Now, as Ella, not much is different at her new school – she’s still an outsider. But, she’s starting to figure things out and take some chances. There’s drama at home too, with her parents and her younger sister, but Ella can escape through art and friendship with Samir.
Ella is brave and takes chances. There is a big to-do over her statement piece but you have to admire her for going for it. It is such a big deal though that there are some unforeseen circumstances and it was pretty audacious of the author as well for going there.
I like how Ella sees people and that she has a big heart. At the same time, she tells it like it is no matter the circumstances. She’s an interesting protagonist, and I could never predict her next step.
Gabrielle Prendergast looks at censorship, racism, religion, mental health, and bullying in Audacious– big themes that lend themselves well to verse. The writing is creative and smart and stands out. For a quick one-sitting read the book packs a punch and gives the reader a lot to think about.
The love story was made more interesting by the forbidden aspect, and that both Ella and Samir struggle with their faith. They bring out something electric in each other that’s interesting to watch, though Ella is a strong character in her own right.
Speaking of the romance, Audacious ends on quite a surprising note in terms of Ella’s romantic life. I didn’t realize until I got to the last page that this book was part of a series, so consider yourself warned! Pick this up if you’re a fan of verse novels, or stories that are a little off the beaten path. The sequel Capricious is due out in May.
I read Audacious for the Cybils YA Fiction category.