Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.
When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.
Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything…even if some of it is just make believe.
Review + Favorite Quotes:
When I was in high school, I was a big part of the drama club. I had a lead in the spring play my senior year, and a very important role (wicked witch) in the fall play. Whenever a book comes up that has a theatre theme, I try to pick it up. I wanted to read Like It Never Happened right from the very beginning. It’s a solid addition to this genre, and I had a lot of fun with it. Since this is part of a blog tour, I was asked to pick my favorite quotes from the novel. And so, this review will be interspersed with many of my favorites.
Next had been Tess Dunham, pretending very hard not to know me, even though we had spent the first half of the summer together. She delivered one of the Vagina Monologues, which is the kind of thing you can maybe expect to get away with at Bickford Park if you ask permission. Tess did not ask permission. Watching her pretend to have an orgasm onstage was like watching a car crash. I wanted to look away but I couldn’t and I kept thinking, I hope that never happens to me. Mr. McFadden gave her a standing ovation before he sent her to Principal Gladstone’s office.
My favorite part of Like It Never Happened was the humor delivered by the protagonist Rebecca. Rebecca’s a theater geek, she’s snarky, her delivery is great, and I mostly adored the voice in this novel. It gets a little weird as the book shifts from humorous to very serious, but fortunately I was with Rebecca all the way. I just think she needs to choose her friends better. The Essential Five hardly knew each other. It was a surface friendship, as many are in high school, but how can you be besties with someone you don’t even know! They were sort of cruel to each other and not very supportive. As the book goes on, we learn why.
In the dining room, I centered my pathetic fresh cut flowers on the table, already set with crystal water glasses and cloth napkins. My mother would most likely decide she was allergic to lavender. Cheap things always made her breat out in hives: bar soap, Hondas, et cetera.
But I couldn’t kiss Charlie in front of Mr. McFadden and the rest of the Essential Five. Not with my presently greasy hair, which Tess had tried to remedy with baby powder, and which now appeared to be molding.
I loved Tess’s friendship with Liane, but we don’t get enough of it! I wanted more! And the character Tim, though he is a member of The Essential Five, barely makes an appearance. The rest of the characters are well-developed, and I thought the way the relationship between Rebecca and Charlie evolves/devolves was interesting, because it’s not something you see very often in young adult.
She threw back her head and laughed. “So you want to know a secret?” she asked.
“Yes,” I said quickly. I would have paid money for her secrets.
“You’re my favorite.”
I felt a dumb smile stretch across my face and dimple my cheeks. “Blasphemy,” I said.
I really liked this book. It’s fun, it’s memorable, and turns out to be MUCH more serious than it seems at first. This is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because it’s sort of a surprise. There is a tone shift at some point in the book, and the story goes from mostly lighthearted to dangerous territory (which it handles very well, I might add). So why is it a bad thing? Mostly the same reasons. You don’t see the tone shift coming and it throws you off balance and makes the plot come off a bit wonky. I am conflicted. Also, it’s a bit of a slow starter. There’s a whole camp sequence that I didn’t really understand because it seemed to have no place within the story as whole. But it’s not like it was unenjoyable to read, because there was always humor and witty writing and I am so down for that whenever.
“And in my experience, when young actors hit their stride, they offer something that adults just can’t.”
“Like what?” I asked.
“You’re all so focused on trying to understand your characters. You always want to know how they feel. Adult actors are obsessed with understanding the author’s message, or with the historical context of the play. They want to know exactly what they’re preaching. High school students only care about getting mad or falling in love.”
In conclusion, I was pretty satisfied! I recommend this book to lovers of contemporary that want to step a bit into dark territory but you want to do it in steps. It’s on its way there but it doesn’t go all the way. And that’s usually how I like it.
I have chosen these songs because I think they fit the book, and I hope you’ll agree!
Bad Blood by Taylor Swift (DUH)
Brokenhearted by Karmin (It’s a song about being obsessed with a guy. You do the math.)
Firestone by Kygo, Conrad Sewell (this song just reminds me of the passion that theater geeks have. Same as Burn, really.)
Alright by Supergrass (I’m showing my age here.)
Burn by Ellie Goulding (reminds me of theater–passion)
Titanium by Sia, David Guetta (You have to be tough in high school when people are spreading rumors about you.)
Circles by I See MONSTAS (It’s hard to explain why I picked this one but I just feel it really fits what Rebecca is going through.)
American Girl by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (self-explanatory, yes?)
What Now by Rihanna
Kill Your Heroes by AWOLNATION (I think this is a positive song to close the book on.
Follow the Tour here!
About the Author:
Emily Adrian was born in 1989 in the suburbs of Portland, Oregon. After graduating from Portland State University, she moved to Toronto, Ontario, where she worked as a receptionist while secretly writing books.
Emily currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their dog named Hank. Like It Never Happened is her debut novel.