February 28, 2011 Uncategorized 3

Author: Sara Bennett Wealer
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: Feb. 15, 2011
Pages: 336
Challenge: Debut Author Challenge
Source: Different Area Codes Book Tours

About the Book: Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star. 

Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation.

As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

My Thought: I’m not really sure what I expected going in to this book. I thought the idea was interesting and I’d heard good things about it. I guess it was one of the books that I wanted to read but didn’t really have strong preconceived notions about. Perhaps that is what made loving it that much more awesome… it was a surprise!

Rival alternates chapters between Kathryn and Brooke. It also alternates between senior and junior year (every few chapters.) At the beginning of the book the reader learns that something happened between Brooke and Kathryn junior year and it has made them rivals. As the book switches between junior and senior years the reader begins to piece together what happened. This really worked for me. I loved it! Admittedly, I do have a thing for dual narrators :)

As I was reading I couldn’t decide which girl I liked best. One had to be “the good one” right? The fact that this isn’t true is another reason this books rocks. Kathryn and Brooke are teenage girls. They both make mistakes and interpret the other girl’s actions through their own experiences. They have very different lives and so this makes for many misunderstandings and misconstrued situations. At times they are each the victim. At times they are each the aggressor. I loved this. It is so true of girls, high school, and drama!

The final highlight I want to point out is the romance… or “nomance.” We’re talking high school girls so yes, there are romantic interests. However, this is really the story of a friendship. Rival focuses on the girls, their thoughts, and their actions. Boys take a backseat. Again, it just worked for me. 

Rival  is an interesting look at the anatomy of a friendship from beginning to end (and everything in between!) I found it to be engaging and unique. I look forward to reading more from Sara Bennett Wealer!.

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