Dramarama by E. Lockhart
This YA novel is about a friendship between two teens who are obsessed with musical theater. Sadye and Demi feel out of place in their boring Ohio town–Demi more than Sadye because he is black and gay–so they escape to a seven-week summer drama camp called Wildwood. Some chapters are pure dialog, transcripts of audio recordings that Sadye and Demi make to remember their time at Wildwood.
I was particularly impressed by a conversation between Demi and Sadye in which he tries to explain the limits of colorblindness, and why it’s not enough to allow close friendship between people of different races. That issue wasn’t necessarily resolved between them, but I was thrilled just to see that idea in print in a YA book.
One main lesson is about overcoming petty jealousy. Sadye feels greatly outclassed by her friends at Wildwood, some of whom have already appeared on Broadway, but by the end is able to see them as flawed humans with their own struggles. Sadye has conflicts with the directors of her shows, and really raises some good questions about the way the philosophy and structure of the theater facilitate the authoritarian tendencies of directors. I concluded that Sadye would do better as a director herself than an actor.
The ending is not traditionally happy, and involves a sacrifice on Sadye’s part. I appreciated the complexity of this ending and didn’t need it to be neat and tidy. I don’t think this book is quite as good as The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, another YA novel by Lockhart I’ve read, but it’s still a fun read.