Author: Holly Schindler
Release Date: May 17th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy, Magic, Realism
Rate: 3.5 Stars
Synopsis: The local Avery Theater was just a run-down building to Quin—until her mother told her the tragic love story of Nick and Emma that played out on the theater’s stage all those years ago. Quin is convinced it’s the perfect story to rewrite for her drama class, but when she goes searching for more information, she makes a startling discovery—the Avery is rapidly regaining its former splendor and setting the stage for her classmates Dylan and Cass to relive Nick and Emma’s romance. Quin can see the spark between them, but it’s up to her to make sure her friends—and the Avery—can both be saved this time around.
“‘There is real, undeniable magic in this world – all around us.'”
I haven’t read a lot of books that deal with theater or performing arts, but the ones that I do read I tend to like. They’re always different than your usual contemporary novel, because they tend to have a certain life to them that makes the novel shine. In the case of Spark, by Holly Schindler, there is plenty of life to be found within the pages!
Quin has grown up with her adoptive mother, who always spoke about the town’s old theater – The Avery – as if it was once alive. Until a tragedy struck that caused the owner to close down the theater, in which case her mother says the “The Avery died” when she refers to it. Never really understanding why her mother talked about the old theater as if it were a living, breathing thing, Quin just figured her mother really enjoyed theater and acting – after all, her mother did spend some of her childhood in that theater before it closed, and she’s teaching the drama class as a substitute this year.
When Quin’s mother decides to have the class put on a play of Anything Goes to raise money to save The Avery from being destroyed (and restore it to its former glory), the drama class is curious – until it turns out that Quin’s mother has given everyone a task that pretty much makes them face their fears. For Quin, it’s having to get up and tell everyone what to do, because she’s the director. For Quin’s best friend, she will be the lead – but that terrifies her, because due to a birthmark that covers the side of her face, she tries to stay out of the spotlight. And another boy who has a speech issue and tries to keep to himself has been made the music director. No one is thrilled with the way Quin’s mother wants to run the play, especially with Quin as the director.
However, when strange sounds and lights start appearing to Quin (from The Avery), she starts to wonder if maybe there was a little bit more to the old theater than she had grown up believing. Maybe magic is real, after all.
“It’s true. The Avery’s heart is beating. The theater is breathing. The Avery’s alive.”
As Quin and her friends come to understand that despite the horrible tragedy that occurred in The Avery decades before they were even born, they also come to understand that maybe there really is some magic in the world – and that maybe Quin’s mother was right – maybe The Avery really is alive, and it was just waiting for someone who loved it enough to come back and make it whole again. And maybe if Quin and her drama class can manage to put the play together in time, they will be able to save the theater that was once the center of their town, and make it the hot spot that it used to be.
Spark is a well written novel that will delight fans of theater and those who aren’t that big of theater fans. Quin’s character was enjoyable and easy enough to click with, and the mystery she sets out to solve about her background add a little more fun to the story. While the side characters are just a little bit quiet and don’t have as much personality as the main character, I still enjoyed reading about their time in The Avery. The supernatural/magical aspects that accompany the theater really made the book shine with originality.
I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun, quick read with an air of magic, mystery, and a small town’s history that really blended well together and created a nice, charming book that will sweep you off your feet and have you believing that magic is definitely real!
Note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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Holly Schindler’s work has received starred reviews in Booklist and Publishers Weekly, has won silver and gold medals in ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year and the IPPY Awards, respectively, has been featured on Booklist’s Best First Novels for Youth and School Library Journal’s What’s Hot in YA, and has been a PW Pick of the Week. She is owned by a Pekingese named Jake, and can be found working on her next book in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri. She can also be found at hollyschindler.com.