My Life, the Theatre, and Other Tragedies
Author: Allen Zadoff
Performed by MacLeod Andrews
Released: April 2013 by Audible Studios
Category: Young Adult Fiction
"High school sophomore Adam Zeigler, who lost his father to a sudden accident two years ago, thinks the best way to live life is behind the spotlight. As a member of the theater crew, he believes he’s achieved it all when he wins the coveted job of spotlight operator. But that was before a young actress, Summer, appeared in his view. Instantly smitten, Adam is determined to win her over. But to do so, he’ll have to defy his best friend and break the golden rule of his school: techies and actors don’t mix. Set against the backdrop of a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Zadoff’s latest is a bromance, a love story, and theater story in one. The politics of love and high school collide as Adam struggles to find the courage to step out of the shadows and into the light."
I loved “Since You Left Me” and this book appealed too. I love the way Mr Zadoff writes, touching and funny at the same time and again dealing with a teenager’s real and deep issues in an insightful way. The words drew me in and the characters felt real and as diverse as you’d find in any high school. I liked Reach, Adam’s best friend and dastardly Derek was the one you love to hate.
Adam is likeable, sweet and insecure, my heart went out to him. I felt total sympathy for a boy, full of pain, who has withdrawn into himself, missing his father dreadfully and hiding away from life. He became a techie in the drama department of his High School, lighting being the only thing he can feel a connection to because his father was an artist and loved the effect of light. And so Adam loves being on the catwalk high above the stage, working the lights for different effects, where he can see everything that’s going on without being seen himself.
Mr Zadoff really gets inside the mind of an angst ridden teenager and Adam’s narration of those thoughts comes across in a powerful way giving the reader/listener compassion for a boy dealing with more than he should be. And on top of all that Adam has a crush on Summer, one of the actors in the school play. It’s an unwritten rule though, that techies and actors don’t mix. Think Sharks versus Jets and you have the general idea.
This is a coming of age story dealing with not only relationships between friends and the boy/girl dynamic but also the way a person deals with their own personal problems of self-confidence, or lack thereof, and fear. In Adam’s case, fear of the dark and the flashbacks or visions he has of his father.
I like the way different ethnicities and sexual orientations are introduced in a natural way without making them a big deal. I also very much enjoyed the ‘behind the scenes’ viewpoint, one which, even as a theatre goer, I wouldn’t necessarily know anything about. Whether or not such harsh conflict between actors and the crew is actually true to life I’m not sure but it certainly added drama to this story.
One of the reasons I like MacLeod Andrews’ narrations so much is the way he adjusts his voice to fit the story. From sounding like a teen in YA novels to a seasoned New Orléans policeman or a gravelly voiced Sandman Slim and countless others, his characterisations are totally convincing and authentic.