I’ve been involved in this little thing called Life that occasionally happens around these parts. Two productions went off without too much of a hitch (well, one where the leads actually got hitched and the other where the leads pretended to get hitched).
Theatre week can bring out so many emotions, especially in the director, which was my lucky title.
I spent this past week deep in the ire of the theatre at Cairo High School, where my students were finishing up their Spring production of Guys and Dolls. On Monday afternoon, we put together Act I (for the first time…I know, scary). By Friday night, the kids did a pretty jam up job. Was it perfect? Nope. Was I proud? Yep. They came a long, long way in 4 days and all I could ask for was improvement at every rehearsal–that’s what they gave me!
I’ve decided that after many years of working with high schoolers, teaching them, and especially trying to mount a production with them, is like taking a trust fall off of a cliff and hoping (read: praying) they catch you at the bottom. It’s really all up to the students. I can give them costumes, sets, props, make-up and mics, but I can’t learn their lines or songs for them. I can share my passion, but I can only hope to inspire theirs.
So of course, while I’ve got 40+ kids packed into dressing rooms, wings & any other nook and cranny of a backstage space, high school shenanigans were bound to happen. Someone’s boyfriend showed up uninvited and a chivalrous guys from the cast made him leave. Someone’s foot got stomped by a character shoe heel (tell me a show where this doesn’t happen) and her friends tried to “jump” (their word, not mine) the girl whose foot was found in the offending shoe. Phones (read: cameras) were everywhere. God only knows what dressing photos were caught. Curse words were slung from here to Broadway. I had to give tear-inducing speeches about making great memories in the dressing room rather than those they’d rather forget. Awesome. Hugs and kisses, ladies and gentlemen of the cast.
All of this got me thinking about #scandal a pretty fab book about modern-day shenanigans (read, those of kids currently in high school, which are probably pretty tame compared to what would’ve happened if we’d had Facebook, SnapChat and FaceTime in high school).
Written by Sarah Ockler, #scandal is a contemporary YA mystery novel; a cautionary tale about keeping up with your phone lest someone steal it and hack your Facebook account. Also, it has a pretty good message about 1) keeping business to yourself 2) the perils of social networking and 3) labeling is so not meta (read: cool/inducing of good karma points). Also, point 4) if your best friend tells you to go to prom with her “boyfriend,” the same guy you’ve been crushing hard on for 3 years…you probably should say no.
The characters (of which there are many…it is high school, after all…) are well-rounded, though sometimes hard to keep straight. It seems at first that there will be a “token” character to fill every high school stereotype, but once we’re deeper into the pages, we find…well, we find that we, as the reader, are doing exactly what we aren’t supposed to be doing: labeling.
Written from multiple POV’s, we get to see the social networking scandal unfold from different angles. My favorite character, of course, is Miss Demeanor. An alias for a character in the twists and turns of this mystery, Miss Demeanor keeps us up to date on all manners of social scandals and other happenings. Her actual identity and ulterior motive are a complete mystery until the end. Along the way, there are countless pop-culture references from Oprah to Ani Defranco and everything in between. These kept me laughing through the entire book. The downside to these references (and the Facebook postings from Miss D) is that in a few years, it will just be nostalgic to think back on the time of Facebook; surely something else will have taken over and branded us all followers of the anti-christ by then (totally j/k on that, by the way). It may not stand the test of time, or it may come back later and everything will be cool again (think Eleanor and Park and how kids reading it think tape players, mixed tapes and…ah! changing batteries!…is “just so 80’s and cool”….please…make me throw up kids, I LIVED through the 80’s…big bangs, batteries and all). Another downside (I hate that I’m finding these downsides, because honestly, the pop-culture references were my favorite part of the book) is that an older reader may not “get” all of them. Even I (29 Foh evah, ya’ll!) didn’t get one of them until…well, until this week actually (there’s a character nick-named 420…I’m going to let you figure out which slot he fits in). Maybe it’s not age, but the fact that I’m not a stoner…we’ll leave that to dwell on later.
Anyway, back to the book. The scandal is actually pretty crappy for the characters and there were times when I really just wanted to jump through the pages and shake some of those silly high schoolers by the shoulders. Grrrr!!!! GROW UP!!! And then, I remember that they are, in fact, just high schoolers. The book comes out June 17th and before you dismiss it (like SOME people already have) just because there’s a hashtag in the title, let me remind you that this is the very reason to pick it up. Put it on your TBR list NOW!
Here are two more books that I loved to read about high school shenanigans.
Kiss and Make Up, by Katie D. Anderson, is a hilarious novel about a girl, her lipstick and some really, really awesome, like, my absolute favorite ever, pop-culture reference…
..now tell me that didn’t make you laugh.
It’s actually a really cute read that deals with a younger high schooler, bad boyfriends, tough family history and a little tiny bit of magic. You’ll enjoy it.
The next is probably one you’ve already read, especially if you’re a Lauren Oliver fan, which I am (although I will be the first to admit that the Delirium series was not my favorite).
Before I Fall is a YA contemporary novel dealing with some pretty heavy issues. I’ll just give you a synopsis and then tell you that you plus anyone over the age of 14 in your inner circle must read it:
Girl goes to party. Girl leaves party. Girl is in car accident. Girl thinks she’s died in said accident. Girl wakes up. Girl realizes it is the same day. Six times.
Now, I know that this isn’t an original theme, but the way Oliver writes this high schoolers revolving door of emotions is pretty awesome. It’s deep and deals with tough issues, but I think it’s an absolute must read, especially if you’ve got a teen nearby.
So there you go! Enjoy these YA contemporary novels and never stop Reading Up with the Joneses! Don’t forget, you can pre-order #scandal or purchase kindle or bound editions of Kiss and Make Up and Before I Fall in the Jones’ Book Store, up there on your right.