Author: Marisa Kanter
Lifelong rivals Natalie and Reid have never been on the same team. So when their school’s art budget faces cutbacks, of course Natalie finds herself up against her nemesis once more. She’s fighting to direct the school’s first ever student-written play, but for her small production to get funding, the school’s award-winning band will have to lose it. Reid’s band. And he’s got no intention of letting the show go on. But when their rivalry turns into an all-out prank war that goes too far, Natalie and Reid have to face the music, resulting in the worst compromise: writing and directing a musical. Together. At least if they deliver a sold-out show, the school board will reconsider next year’s band and theater budget. Everyone could win.
From the synopsis, you get the sense that this is going to be a cute hate-to-love contemporary. However, the book didn’t read like one, which was slightly disappointing. Natalie and Reid’s feud started when they were in middle school, over their equal love of the clarinet. Natalie eventually found a love for theater and writing, leaving music to Reid and losing the bond she shared with her dad.
The main protagonist, Natalie, is very flawed. I didn’t enjoy how her imperfections are pointed out throughout the story, by other people close to her. She did need to hear some of these comments, but people, especially her friends, shouldn’t have been so blunt. This being said, I am unsure if we were supposed to sympathize with Natalie and find her relatable. Or, if she was intended to be an unlikable character. Because, I’m still on the fence about my opinion of her. As for Reid, her love interest, he was very pleasant to read about. His personality was relatable, and he didn’t come off as obnoxious. He knew that he was talented, but didn’t brag about it. His parents didn’t support his dreams, so he tried his hardest to prove that he was talented enough to make music as a career.
When we first meet Natalie and Reid, their interaction is rather snarky, but I found Reid to be fairly civil. It was Natalie that turned everything into a competition, and Reid was just along for the ride. This could be due to the fact that Natalie felt that Reid had replaced her in her fathers eyes. But this wasn’t Reid’s fault; she had misplaced anger. Natalie created a lot of drama and problems for herself. She never asked anyone before jumping to conclusions, and was seriously over-dramatic. Reid was trying to compromise, but she dismissed all his suggestion.
“I will never be enough for you.”
Nevertheless, I found myself empathizing with her at times. Despite all the drama, her feelings were valid. She was basically screaming out for her dad’s affection and getting shrugged off everytime. By the end of the book, I still didn’t see much growth in their relationship. Still, the message of following your dreams was a highlight in the story. A person can have a career they enjoy and still make a decent living. You might struggle, but everyone has struggles, even if they aren’t career related.
One odd plot point was the play theme, a ‘Frozen’ retelling. The author’s idea for a play – based off the animated film- that had a more important message was cute. But ‘Frozen’ just feels a little more middle school to me. Although, I am probably biased, since I am not a big ‘Frozen’ fan. I did want to mention that there is some Jewish representation in the book, but it doesn’t play a major role in the story. In short, the book didn’t feel like a true enemies-to-lovers, but more of a message about following your passion, and letting go of preconceived opinions of someone. If you are looking for a middle-of-the-road young adult contemporary, then give this one a read.
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Until The Next Chapter,