I would definitely class this novel as Literary YA Fiction, because there is a clear focus on good writing as well as storytelling. I read a lot of lighter, less-polished YA books, and get a lot of enjoyment from them, but it’s always a refreshing change to find something aimed at a younger audience that gives teens credit for being able to understand and enjoy writing that doesn’t spell things out to them or influence them with current slang and fashion labels.
Thurner has a strong, individual style that is consistent throughout the novel. Her heroine, Lara Pearlman, is unmistakably flawed, but it’s her sense of self-centralism and ability to mess things up that make her the kind of protagonist that Thurner’s audience can identify with.
A lot happens in Dress Rehearsal – including the bank robbery and abduction spoken of in the blurb – but Thurner’s style doesn’t allow for the events to seem melodramatic. They just happen, and the characters deal with them in their own, flawed ways, and the audience is given glimpses of motivations, but left to work out the details by reading between the lines. More, still, can be garnered through parallels to be found between the characters’ lives and the school production that has brought them all together.
Dress Rehearsal is an enjoyable read and an impressive first novel.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)