Monday, July 01, 2013

Young Adult: Allegra by Shelley Hrdlitschka

Music is the connective tissue of Shelley Hrdlitschka’s ninth novel, Allegra (Orca Books).

A performing arts high school is not proving to be the school Allegra dreamed about. She had imagined being able to dedicate herself completely to dance, which is her passion. But in some ways, it’s been a rude awakening. It’s still school, and not only must she deal with the cliques and mundane classes she’d have to take at other schools, here she is also expected to come out with a well-rounded arts education and that’s not what she had in mind at all. She is disconsolate when she’s forced to take music theory, something she’d figured she was beyond. But she finds herself surprisingly fascinated, not only by the material, but by the interesting and attractive young teacher presenting it.

It’s not long before Allegra finds herself falling hard for Mr. Rochelli and she’s certain he feels it, too. But what if she’s mistaken about what she feels are his intentions? And, after a while, even that isn’t important. It just doesn’t seem possible that he doesn’t feel as she does.

The love Allegra feels for Mr. Rochelli lifts the girl through her days. She feels elevated. And it isn’t just what she sees inside. Others notice the change in her, so of course she figures, the love must be real.

The truth, of course, is far from what it appears to be. But as Allegra discovers the nature of these truths, she also finds fresh aspects to her own talents.

I liked Allegra a lot. Allegra herself is engaging enough to be a welcome companion and while some parts of the conclusion seem inevitable from the beginning, there are enough twists to make the outcome interesting. And it satisfies. Readers 12 and up will like this one. ◊

Sienna Powers is a contributing editor to January Magazine.

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