Saturday, October 28, 2006

Rehearsal, A Different Drummer, by LK Hunsaker

What can I say about this book? What can I not say? I bought this book last week when I was in Borders with my daughter. She was looking for another Jennifer Scales book, and I was just looking. I'd noticed an ad for an author signing that day, and was pleasantly surprised to see the author still there. I really enjoy getting the chance to meet authors and hearing what they have to say about their own work. The fact that this was a local author made it even more appealing. Speaking with Ms. Hunsaker was a joy, and her understated enthusiasm for her story convinced me that I should by her book. It's not something that I would have probably picked up on my own, especially with it's price and its length, but it's hard for me to say no to another author. I'm so glad that I bought it!

My initial attraction to the book was its title, Rehearsal, A Different Drummer. If you've ever visited my own webpage, you'll know that I have a fondness for Thoreau. His quote is listed as the very first of "My favorite sayings", even above my favorite Bible verse and my favorite chorus from Van Morrison. How could I not be interested in a book that uses his quote on the dedication page? That alone was worth the price of the book.

The book... I don't even know how to describe it. I guess the BCC does ok though. If you want to read it, click the link. It's not bad, and it doesn't have any glaringly obvious mistakes. However, it doesn't tell you that you may put the book to the side until you are out of historical romances, then pick it up when you realize you have nothing else to read, then spend the next 20 hours (literally) reading, then want to kick yourself for not being intuitive enough to rush home and read it the first day you bought it. Or maybe that's just me.

Susie Brooks is a 19 year old dance teacher, growing up against the backdrop of the American Seventies. She lost her mom as a child. Her mom's friend helped raise her, because her dad was out of town a lot on business travel. Evan Scott grew up in the same house as Susie, and was her built in big brother, best friend, and protector. Five years older, he took care of Susie and knew her in a way that most people can only imagine someone else ever knowing them. Evan and Susie shared the sort of relationship that you've always wanted with your best friend, able to talk about most anything, finish each others thoughts, and usually communicate with only a look. They move away from their tiny town together, taking up residence across the hall from each other in a building inhabited by the rest of Evan's band. Susie wants more from their relationship, but she's afraid that Evan will never see her as more than a surrogate little sister, or his best friend. Evan wants more as well, but is afraid of telling Susie how he feels.

Everything changes when Duncan O'Neil enters the picture. Duncan is a friend of Evan's, as well as being a shockingly sexy guitar player from the UK. He arrives in town to see Evan, and to possibly join their band, Raucous. His incredible talent earns him a spot in the band, and his raw sensuality earns him more than a passing glance from Susie. After being turned down by her a few times, she finally agrees to go out with him. What starts out as two of Evan's friends enjoying time together quickly turns in to something much, much more.

Susie isn't an official part of the band, but she's their biggest fan. She's been with them since Evan joined, and she rarely misses a practice, much less a performance. Playing mainly in local clubs, the band soon gains a small following. When asked to go on the road as the opening act for a much larger band, they accept, and Susie joins them. While on the road, the relationship between Susie and Duncan intensifies. Evan is torn between wanting Susie for himself and seeing how much she is blossoming with Duncan.

Susie's transformation from a shy, scared girl into an independent young woman is a sight to behold. With Duncan's help and encouragement, she learns that it's ok to be herself in front of others, and that she is much stronger than she ever thought she could be.

There were a few things that initially bothered me about this book though.
First of all, it's looooong. I don't mind long when I'm looking at War and Peace, or Gone With The Wind, but it's rather daunting with a new, unknown author. There were times when I wondered why certain things were there, because the book would probably have been just as good without them. However, as I finished first a hundred pages and then more, I realized that the story wouldn't have been quite the same. As long as it was, I really enjoyed most every word.
Second, I wish that the editor had been a little more attentive. As a writer, I know that occasional mistakes happen. However, as a teacher (though only to my six homeschooled children), they still tend to get under my skin. There were times when I was pulled out the story momentarily because a word or phrase didn't make sense, or was left out. This was not a huge thing, but it was a bit distracting for me. You know how I am about editing, so that should say enough.

However, the things that I enjoyed really outshone everything else. The book wasn't billed as a YA, but I will gladly hand it over to my 14yo daughter as soon as she's done reading her current book. I know that she'll love it, even if she's initially intimidated by the size. While there was sensuality and passion, it was not inappropriate for a teenager at all. Also, in keeping with the musical theme, the book was not divided into chapters in the regular way. It was divided more in a journal style with dates, but also included musical references. The beginning, for instance, (or what some might call a prologue, though I am loathe to use the term) was called the Overture. The rest of the story is divided into sections such as the Fugue, Fanfare, Andante, Arpeggio, Crescendo, Dissonance, Counterpoint, and Serenade. Look up the words if you don't know what they mean, but it's enough to say that the sections are pretty well described by them. Also, I got to get inside the head of the characters, and that was refreshing. The story was told in a way that scenes were not repeated from every point of view, but they were described from the main points of view. When Susie was worried that Duncan was pulling away because he didn't care as much, you got to see that Duncan actually didn't want to push things too far, too fast. You felt Evan's struggle to be happy for Susie, even if it was with Duncan. You really got a feel for who the characters were. At times, it was more like reading a diary than a book, and that made it all the more personal.

The back cover says that this is the first of a series of four books. I can honestly say that I hope I don't have to wait too very long to read the next one. The story of Duncan, Susie and Evan is far from over, and I want to know what happens next. Honestly, after over 600 pages, you'd think I'd be sick of these people already, but I'm not. In the style of most great storytellers, Ms. Hunsaker has created a cast of characters that captivated me, had me on the edge of my seat, not even wanting to close my eyes at 4am. Though I am known for not wanting to stop reading in the middle of the story, I can scarcely recall a time that I have become so engrossed in the lives of the characters so totally. I very much look forward to reading the next three stories.

I hope you'll add this book to your to-be-purchased list, and let me know what you think!!


LK Hunsaker said...

Hello, I stopped to see what you thought and want to thank you for such a thoughtful, complete review!

Yes, I agree the editing needs a touch more polish and that bothers me, also, as a perfectionist. I have to accept blame. As an indie author, all editing is my responsibility and the next in the series will be more fine-tuned, excuse the pun.

I am honored by your review and will include a link to it from my site and blog.

dee said...

Ms. Hunsaker,
Until after your post, it never even hit me that you were indie. I feel about dumb now. Hopefully, my stupid comment about your editor didn't offend you. That'll teach me to be more attentive in the future. That said, after knowing that YOU were the editor, I have to admit that it changes things a bit. I know that it is simply impossible for me to edit my own work. Honestly, if I didn't have my small crit group, I don't know where I'd be. Doing it all yourself is an enormous undertaking, and you have my complete awe, for lack of a better word.

I can't wait for the next book to be released. And when you get that order for your other book, and it's supposed to go to Charity, you'll know who it is, since she needs to read it before I do. That's only fair.

Thanks for taking the time to read the review and leave a comment.


Cherry Magic Sheryl said...

This is next on my wish list. I love books so rich that 600 pages feel like you've lived with these people. It sounds new and refreshing in its approach and while I'm not your typical YA reader(40-something, no kids librarian)I enjoy a good read. The fact that it is by an Indie author makes it all the more interesting to me. Thanks

LK Hunsaker said...

Dee, I'm not at all offended! I'm quite glad to know, actually, that you didn't realize I was indie. That's a compliment, as I see it.

It is very difficult to catch your own errors, since as you know your story so well, you read it as it is in your head instead of always seeing what's in print. The errors I don't catch still annoy me. ;-)

Sheryl, it isn't young adult fiction, per se, but I'm family-oriented and try to keep my work safe for teens although it contains adult issues. (My daughter has been reading my work since she was fourteen.) If I vary from that in the future, it will be well marked. I hope you'll enjoy it!