Like It Never Happened: A Book Review

Hello!

Like It Never HappenedTitle: Like It Never Happened
Author: Emily Adrian
Published: June 2nd, 2015 by Dial Books
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary
Source: Library / Hardcover
Series: Nope!

Stereotypes, sexuality, and destructive rumors collide in this smart YA novel for fans of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl, Siobhan Vivian’s The List, and E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.

When Rebecca Rivers lands the lead in her school’s production of The Crucible, she gets to change roles in real life, too. She casts off her old reputation, grows close with her four rowdy cast-mates, and kisses the extremely handsome Charlie Lamb onstage. Even Mr. McFadden, the play’s critical director, can find no fault with Rebecca.

Though “The Essential Five” vow never to date each other, Rebecca can’t help her feelings for Charlie, leaving her both conflicted and lovestruck. But the on and off-stage drama of the cast is eclipsed by a life-altering accusation that threatens to destroy everything… even if some of it is just make believe. {Goodreads}

It should come as no surprise, but I love everything about the theater. I look forward to working on school performances throughout the year {those lengthy tech week rehearsals included}. I’m always up for seeing a show, whether it’s a community production downtown or a professional tour coming through a nearby city. And, as a bookworm too, I’ll grab any novel off the shelves that mentions a play. My interest in all things theatrical led me to the summer release Like It Never Happened, by debut author Emily Adrian. A story of drama on and offstage, it follows high school student Rebecca River and her four fellow thespians, otherwise known as “The Essential Five.” The book took me by surprise, dazzling me with its realistic cast of characters and intriguing me with its complex plot, and it left me in eager anticipation for Adrian’s next release.

As cliché as it sounds, one often finds their place, or at the very least, their interests, during high school. The Essential Five’s spots in school? In the auditorium, practicing for their next performance. While they all have acting talent, Rebecca, the main character, is the clear star, landing the lead of The Crucible and every other main role afterwards. Her friends are having too much fun making inside jokes and laughing backstage than to be jealous of her, and Mr. McFadden, the drama director, has yet to give her a negative comment. Furthermore, even when her home life gets complicated, Rebecca knows her friendships, bound by a vow not to date one another, won’t. Rebecca is a realistic teenage narrator, driven by her emotions and her narrow perspective of events. When things get messy – both in Rebecca’s life and in the plot structure – her voice remains a constant.

Like Rebecca, the supporting characters have their own set of flaws. The Essential Five, for example, are experts in drama, including the type that occurs off the high school stage; as the show date comes closer, more secrets are kept, relationships are cut off, and rumors are spread. It’s difficult to understand each of their motives and one even had so small of a role in the friendship I can’t recall his name, but as a whole, they’re important; they add to Rebecca’s personal growth and the various themes of the novel. The Rivers family also serves as a dysfunctional relationship, but no less of a developed one. When Rebecca’s older sister, Mary, arrives after years away from home to announce her engagement, it spurs discussion of Mary’s troubled past on and conflicting feelings for Rebecca {Text to text connection! This unusual sister situation reminded me of the winner of a novel The Truth Commission, also worth checking out}.

Contrary to what the sun-drenched cover may have you believe, Like It Never Happened isn’t a light and fluffy “beach read.” As the character dynamics have likely implied, Adrian takes on a lot – perhaps, a bit too much. From the vicious cycle of slut shaming to the gray area of sexual abuse, controversial topics are woven into the storyline, but the 350+ pages isn’t enough to explore each subject in depth. I also found timeline odd; readers are thrust into the story at the end of Rebecca’s sophomore year, and it continues into her junior year with a strange sense of pacing, Nevertheless, what is done well is important; this includes showing how Rebecca’s emotion effect her actions and how easily one night can last in memory.

I think Adrian’s debut can best described as the literary parallel to Glee. Both contain a creative component; both have a varied cast of characters, some of which are developed to their entirety, some not; and both have {or in the case of Glee, had} taken on too much than they were ready for. With that said, I’m surprised at how many negative reviews Like It Never Happened has received. Sure, neither the plot nor the characters are perfect, but what book is? This is Adrian’s debut, and it displays more than enough potential. I’ll describe is as good, for I fully expect her next release to be great.

Have a terrific Tuesday!
Bella

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6 thoughts on “Like It Never Happened: A Book Review

  1. I’ve been meaning to comment on this review for ages, but between college applications and general school struggles, I haven’t managed to catch up on commenting until now. (And you’ve posted so many times since – you amazing superhuman – that I feel strange commenting now. But I’m doing it anyway.)

    First off, can I mention that I love your use of the phrase “text to text connection”? I’m feeling a sudden onset of nostalgia for elementary school now. But in all seriousness, I completely agree with your review. The timing did seem a bit awkward (although the unusual-ness added to the plot’s charm in a way), but I loved the story anyway. I thought I was in for a lighter book as well, but I’m so glad it tackled larger topics, even if it didn’t get the chance to delve too deeply into any one of them. What I loved about this story was the way all the elements fit so naturally together, so I didn’t mind the single issues being less than fully fleshed out.

    And yes, I’ll be the first in line for Adrian’s next book because I fully expect it to be great. I’m so glad we both enjoyed this one, and here’s to enjoying the author’s next book even more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Emily, you are too sweet! I feel you on the school struggles – I myself have felt the stress of balancing different activities and returning to my studying and testing mode. I hope your college applications are going well {i.e. keep me updated! :)}.

      And, haha, YES, elementary school vocabulary at its finest. Adrian did a fantastic job tying the elements together. The only thing I could ask for now is that the book get a little more love. Thank you for commenting!

      Like

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