By Amy Fellner Dominy
Available now from Walker (Bloomsbury)
Confession time! I thought AUDITION & SUBTRACTION was a young adult novel before I started reading it. I know, I know, the cartoon cover should've given it away, but I didn't. I was kind of disappointed because I wanted to read about high school band. (Not that I don't have fond memories of middle school band, too. I'm just hostile to surprise.)
Tatum is a second clarinet in the Dakota Middle School band, but she still has a chance of being one of three clarinets from the school that earns a spot in the District Honor Band. But there's a new student in town - and he plays the clarinet too. To make it worse, he starts dating Lori, Tatum's duet partner for the auditions. She doesn't have a chance if her secret weapon is distracted by the competition. And it isn't just about District Honor Band - Tatum may have a shot at making the Wind Ensemble as a freshman if she impresses the high school director at her audition.
(Okay, that last bit really bugged me throughout the book. There are about seven clarinets in the middle school band. First off, that indicates there should be enough students that the high school needs at least three bands, not just a Wind Ensemble and Concert Band. Now, a high school Wind Ensemble should have no more than six clarinets - two per part. There are three clarinets who are better than Tatum in the middle school. That means there would have to be less than three upperclassmen better than the freshmen for Tatum to make the band. That's highly unlikely. Band geekery over!)
AUDITION & SUBTRACTION is both about friendship and believing in your own abilities. Lori acts like a bad friend during the novel, but part of her attitude was encouraged by Tatum's lack of belief in herself. Meanwhile, stand buddy Aaron is clearly way into Tatum but she can't see it because she's too busy obsessing over Lori and Michael. But perhaps he needs to be more direct about his feelings. Tatum's life is also complicated by her parents' separation.
I think current, past, and prospective band geeks will enjoy AUDITION & SUBTRACTION. It's a cute, fun read. I think I would've preferred it as a YA novel, but that's probably just me being cranky.