Sunday, June 15, 2014

|Review| Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast

Title: Audacious
Author:Gabrielle Prendergast
Published October 1st 2013 by Orca
Genre: Contemporary YA in verse
Rating: B+
Goodreads summary:
Sixteen year old Raphaelle is that girl who says the wrong thing, who crosses the wrong person, who has the wrong hair, the wrong body, the wrong attitude, the totally wrong clothes. 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 leave behind the misfit rebel, the outcast, the vengeful trouble-maker she was. Reborn as “Ella,” she plans fit in at her new school, while her perfect younger sister goes to the Catholic girls’ school and her emotionally fragile mother looks for a job.

But Ella might just be a different kind of misfit. She’s drawn to a brooding boy in her art class, Samir, and expresses her confused feelings in an explicit artwork. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella’s art to a younger friend, the horrendous fallout spreads though Ella’s life like an uncontrollable disease. Ella is expelled from school and faces pornography charges, her mother is hospitalized, her sister fails all her classes, and her distant father finally notices something is wrong.
Warning: this review appears longer than it actually is! Don't be afraid.
Let's take a moment to look at that cover and bask in its glory. To make you love it more, the cover belongs to this story. The pink dress on the cover is the exact same pink dress described in the story. The artistic cover also matches the theme of art in the book. Furthermore, the title, AUDACIOUS, is really important in the story so it just makes me so happy that this beautiful cover and title are relevant to the story. YAY!

Audacious is well, audacious. How cliche but the word is perfect for the story. It's bold and I bet a little bit controversial for some people but that's how I like my books. It explores family, religion, art, romance and identity through verse and does all of it in a spectacular manner that makes this book a hidden gem.

Raphaelle, her parents and younger sister move to a new town which means new school. Raphaelle reinvents herself as Ella. She's constantly getting in trouble, initiating controversy, and getting kicked out of Catholic schools so this is her chance to be good. Yeah, that doesn't last long. This is how Raphaelle/Ella struggle with identity and it was interesting reading about a troublemaker for a change. CAN WE GET MORE COMPLICATED FEMALE CHARACTERS LIKE THIS?! I love reading about characters like Raphaelle who are outspoken and not always making the best decisions  so from the beginning, I was loving Audacious and I loved Raphaelle's story.

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Next, there is family. Raphaelle's dad is no longer a high school teacher but a college professor and he's away more and more. Raphaelle's mother is in really bad shape from a family tragedy which makes her really distant and Raphaelle's younger sister has asthma. Mikayla is the usual annoying, obnoxious younger sister except both sisters have each other's backs. Audacious explores this family who starts off rather broken and we get to see them slowly heal. This was nice in light of all the absent parents in YA. 

Then you have religion. Raphaelle's family are very devout Catholics but not only is Raphaelle struggling with her identity, but also with her faith, which is pretty much non existent. The love interest, Samir, is Muslim so there is another character struggling with faith in the book. This was interesting to me because I'm a Muslim and I go to a Catholic university so my professors are priests and nuns and I learn about theology. So I certainly like religion and learning about all different religions but in Audacious, religions are being questioned so its definitely a different perspective. Reading it was sometimes personally complicated to my own beliefs but it was a valid POV nonetheless and I enjoyed reading about it and applaud Gabrielle Prendergast for tackling the subject of faith. It's part of everyone's life, whether they're questioning it, rejecting it or comfortable with it and I think more YA books should include the subject.

When it comes to romance, there is Samir. Raphaelle and Samir hit it off in art class and it's another dilemma for Samir who can't date and Ella who's trying to be good. Samir is Palestinian and really struggles with the problems Palestine face. Samir uses art to express his thoughts about what's happening in Palestine while Raphaelle uses it to identity herself.

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This is when the title AUDACIOUS comes in. Raphaelle/Ella creates an art project around the word "audacious", which represents her and its also the controversial and bold side of the story that will not be everyone's cup of tea. Personally, I LOVED it! But as anyone can see, I like anything bad, wrong, controversial, complicated, etc.

This seems like a whole lot but it's not because Audacious is about Raphaelle/Ella. It's not about Raphaelle/Ella and her family or Raphaelle/Ella and religion or Raphaelle/Ella and art. It's about Raphaelle/Ella and there is more to her life then just one thing. Sometimes contemporary YA books can focus on one thing and go from there but Audacious focuses on Raphaelle and explores everything she's experiencing. Once again, I applaud Gabrielle Prendergast for this. I applaud Gabrielle Prendergast for the entire book. I'm in awe of how she handled every different aspect of the book and brought them together.

To top everything off, this book is written in verse and Gabrielle Prendergast has a way with words. I wish my library copy was my own or a Kindle copy so I can highlight the shit out of so many poems but I settled for taking pictures of the poems. So yeah, I cannot wait to read the follow up, Capricious.

Recommend to: fans of novels in verse, contemporary YA lovers and readers who are looking for something different. Readers who want to see more about religion and more variety in female characters. Also for anyone who likes their books bold and well, audacious.

Rating: [B+] A truly hidden contemporary YA gem.


(I learned about Audacious during Verse Novel week hosted at Clear Eyes, Full Shelves when I read a guest post done by Gabrielle Prendergast and immediately added Audacious to my TBR because of the awesome cover and guest post. Thanks Sarah and Gabrielle!)

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