Thursday, November 4, 2010

When the Stars Go Blue by Caridad Ferrer

Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (November 23, 2010)

Book summary: A dancer driven to succeed.
A musical prodigy attempting to escape his past.

The summer they share.
And the moment it all goes wrong.

Dance is Soledad Reyes’s life. About to graduate from Miami’s Biscayne High School for the Performing Arts, she plans on spending her last summer at home teaching in a dance studio, saving money, and eventually auditioning for dance companies. That is, until fate intervenes in the form of fellow student Jonathan Crandall who has what sounds like an outrageous proposition: Forget teaching. Why not spend the summer performing in the intense environment of the competitive drum and bugle corps? The corps is going to be performing Carmen, and the opportunity to portray the character of the sultry gypsy proves too tempting for Soledad to pass up, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with Jonathan, who intrigues her in a way no boy ever has before. 

But in an uncanny echo of the story they perform every evening, an unexpected competitor for Soledad's affections appears: Taz, a member of an all-star Spanish soccer team. One explosive encounter later Soledad finds not only her relationship with Jonathan threatened, but her entire future as a professional dancer.

My review: There are some novels you really connect with. The main character has something going for them you can immediately relate to and their story grabs you, touches something inside you and makes you keep reading. When The Stars Go Blue is that type of novel. Soledad is my favorite kind of character: funny, a bit sarcastic, doesn't know everything, ready to try new things, willing to help others. It is her ability to help which begins her tale. Horn player Jonathan asks her to audition for the part of Carmen in the Bugle Corps he performs with. Being a dancer and finding him good looking, she accepts. Having Jonathan at the audition helps her handle it all and soon Soledad needs to change her plans for the summer.

What a summer it turns out to be: the ups-and-downs of first love, the daily grind of long rehearsals and sore muscles, the exhilaration of performing live in front of thousands, and the tempting lure of attraction when you think your heart already belongs to someone else.

When the Stars Go Blue has so much going for it--warmth, engaging characters (besides Soledad and her grandmother, there's Raj, Gray, Dom and Taz), and lots of heart. The main character was so likable and appealing. It was refreshing to read about an unconventional teen raised by her Cuban grandmother, passionate about dance, strong, independent, doesn't need to rely on a best friend, and knows what she wants. Soledad's thoughts--honest, gripping, funny, unsure--are so realistically written I felt they could have come from me. I loved how the author had Soledad and her grandmother speaking Spanish throughout the story, at times translating and other times not, and their Cuban heritage was not stereotyped. Her relationship with Jonathan was well written and portrayed that special "newness" of first love. Jonathan was the type of guy you could root for, despite his possessive nature and the occasional change in his demeanor, he was complex enough to make you care. And as for Taz, the hunky soccer player Soledad meets, every girl should should be lucky to have someone so sweet and caring in their lives.

Engaging characters, an unforgettable heroine with a unique voice, realistic situations, When the Stars Go Blue will dance its way into your heart. I wish all contemporary YA novels had as much heart and soul as this one story does. Caridad Ferrer is now on my list of authors to always read.

Rating: ++++1/2

Favorite excerpt: From pages 323-324, ARC.
     "After one of those wonderful moments--sharing an entire conversation in a single glance--he pulled away just far enough to lean through the open window of the car. A second later, music. . . . Slow, romantic piano. Some strings. Weaving together in a sweet, heart-tugging melody that drifted from the speakers, gradually filling my body like it was sinking in straight through my pores and waking something up deep inside. That piece of my soul I'd been so sure had died, that was all about letting someone in. But I guess it had just been dormant. Waiting for the right moment to come back to life, all hot-pins-and-needles sensation just beneath my skin.

     Waiting for the right person."

Cover comment: Gorgeous. Love the prominently placed rose in Soledad's hair and the petals falling above her. Symbolic, meaningful, lovely, a visually striking cover.

Book source: Around the World tours

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