Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Review: Rival by Sara Bennet Wealer

Book: Rival
Author: Sara Bennet Wealer
Published: 2011
Source: Local Library

Brooke has everything Kathryn wants. Popular, rich, and confident, she rules the school with an iron fist and has personally made sure that Kathryn is at the bottom of the popularity heap. Naturally, she's up for Homecoming Queen. More than that, she's sure to win the Blackmore vocal contest, which comes with a hefty college scholarship check. Brooke doesn't need a scholarship, but Kathryn does, desperately.

Kathryn has everything Brooke wants. Dainty and pretty, she always seems to get the boy that Brooke is crushing on. She also has loving, involved parents and a best friend who really gets her. Kathryn has no idea how good she's got it, and Brooke hates her for it. She's also terrified that this little nobody is going to beat her in the Blackmore vocal contest, which comes with the kind of prestige that could be Brooke's first step toward stardom and out of this cruddy little Midwest town.

What makes it all ten times worse is that once upon a time, they were friends.

Very often, I lose patience with multiple POV stories. What's the point? You're all allies, or headed toward the same place. Or, your stories are parallel and don't intersect until the very end. This book, however, is the kind of story that was made for multiple POV. Through each other's eyes, you see how minor misunderstandings and differences have built into a wall of hatred between two very similar girls.

There is one character who's an overt villain and who is really the one behind the most awful bullying. I also wish that the subplot with Kathryn's male best friend, and the subtle does-he-love-her-or-not tension, hadn't been wrapped up so quickly.

However, the best and biggest part of this book is the two main characters. Neither Kathryn nor Brooke are as dreadful or as innocent as they think they are. They both do things out of thoughtlessness and spite. But they both have to learn that forgiveness, like tangos and rivalry, takes two.

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