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Julia Hoban captures the uncertainties of adolescence and the realities of the acting life in this riveting portrayal of a teenage actor's struggles with her own memories.At eighteen, Stephanie Holt is too young to be a has-been, but she is certainly a far cry from the successful commercial actress she once was. Her acting classes were brought to an abrupt halt when a routine memory exercise revealed a painful past Stephanie had successfully suppressed for many years. The result was a nervousbreakdown. Trying to recover, she's hoping to blend in at a new public school, but the past continues to haunt her. Julia Hoban captures the uncertainties of adolescence and the realities of the acting life in this riveting portrayal of a teenage actor's struggles with her own memories.
Author Biography: Julia Hoban's books for children include the I Can Read Books Buzby and Buzby to the Rescue, both illustrated by John Himmelman. An actress and playwright, Ms. Hoban lives in New York City.
Having had a nervous breakdown brought on by repressed memories unearthed in her acting class, eighteen-year-old Stephanie tries to recover and resume a normal life.
"Hey, could you tell me where I go to register?"
"Are you a new student or returning?."
"New." Raw, as a matter of fact, but he didn't have to know that.
"Go down the hall, turn left, room 212."
His directions were easy enough, but that didn't stop the queasy feeling in my stomach. I hate school, and a new school where I didn't know anybody was even worse. Especially since I hadn't been in school for almost a year. Maybe it was better this way, though. After all, the kids at my old school would have wondered what had happened to me. I couldn't have taken all the stares, and the whispers behind my back. I'm sure some people would have asked me straight out why I'd left. They probably would think they were being coot by being so open. No, a new school was definitely better.
Why were the halls so lone So far paranoia was one of the few problems I'd been spared, but I was sure that the guys wandering around must have been staring at how fat my thighs are.
"Hey, Stephanie!" a girl yelled. I turned around. Who could possibly know me here? But the girl looked right through me and grabbed hold of a tall, skinny girl. They giggled wildly and hugged each other. I felt like a fool for turning.
Room 212 was crowded with tons of students. It looked like a casting call, all those anxious faces holding their pictures and resumes hoping they'd be chosen. Only the kids here weren't actors any more than I was at that point, and they were just holding plain ordinary notebooks.
Some older students were sitting behind tables with files full of index cards. They looked like they were probably seniors. I was supposed to be a senior too.
"I hate lines,but at least if we're doing this we can't be studying," said the girl next to me.
"That's true, but I wish this didn't take so long." I turned to look at her. She was wearing what seemed like the standard uniform: sweatshirt, jeans, and boots. I was dressed pretty much the same way, and I was glad. At least I wouldn't stand out. I'd never worn clothes like that to school before, though, and it had been something of a struggle figuring out what to wear. In my other life, I used to go to school pretty decked out. Usually I had an audition to go to at the end of the day, with no time to change. Even if the audition was for something non-fancy like McDonald's, I'd still be in full on-camera makeup. Now my face was naked. It matched the way the rest of me felt. My hair was looking pretty different too. I used to have to wake up half an hour early to get it done on audition days. But the past year I barely had enough energy to wash it. I was wearing it in a ponytail, and looking around I could see that was pretty standard too.
"What's your name?" I asked the girl. I didn't really care, but I'd sort of made myself a halfhearted promise that I would try and talk to somebody for at least five minutes every day. I could feel sweat starting to trickle down my back, and my stomach wasn't that happy either. I decided that maybe five minutes every other week would be a good place to start.
"Karen. What's yours?"
"Stephanie. What grade are you in?"
"I'm a sophomore. You?"
"Sen-junior", I stuttered, but she didn't seem to notice.
"It's too bad you can't buy any coffee around here. I'm really tired. I overslept. 'Thank God I live only a block away."
"You're kidding! I live on East Seventy-seventh Street. It takes forever to get here."
"East Seventy-seventh Street! Wow, that's really a trek. Don't most of the kids in your neighborhood go to fancy prep schools? What are you doing down here?"
"Well, I. . .
It was my turn. I was glad I didn't have to answer her, because I wouldn't have known quite what to say. Something like, "Well, yeah, most of the kids in my neighborhood do go to private schools, and I did too, but you see, I've had a kind of unusual life. I used to be in TV commercials, but after a while it got to be too much, and I fell apart, and well. . ." She would have thought I was some kind of freak. I had to learn to act normal around these kids. Wasn't that the whole point of me being in a school like this, anyway? To hang around with normal kids? To see if some of it could rub off on me? It had taken me more time to figure out my stupid outfit for the first day of school than it ever had for any audition. But in a way this was more important. It was my return to the real world after the past year of never-never land.
When my last shrink had suggested that maybe I would be ready to go back to school in the fall, I'd said yes. I was so tired of being out of it that I figured anything had to be better than staying home and watching the paint dry. Of course Dr. Stevenson had a different expression for it-she accused me of contemplating my own navel. Needless to say, we didn't always see eye-to-eye about everything. Stevenson had insisted that a public school would be best for me. My parents had balked at that; they'd wanted me to go to Spence or Brearly. At least everyone agreed that it would have been impossible to return to my old school. Not after what had happened. But Dr. Stevenson was adamant. She kept insisting that I'd spent too much time in rarefied atmospheres, kind of like a hothouse flower. Going back to school had sounded like a pretty good idea at the time. Now, however, I wasn't so sure. The few sentences I'd exchanged with Karen or whatever her name was already had me gasping for air.
Posted May 29, 2000
I thought this book looked ok so I checked it out for myself. I found it hillarious, sad, touching, and easy to relate to at times. This is a book about how best Friends,can not only hekp one. But help each other....Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.