The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre

HarperTeen. Dec. 2020. 464p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062409263.
Gr 9 Up–When the Beaconville High School Performing Arts Department announces Les Misérables as its spring musical, stage manager Mel is ecstatic. However, whenever she becomes involved with anyone during the production of a show, a curse seems to plague the performance. So when her fellow techies suggest that she refrain from any romantic entanglements as they stage the musical, Mel finds herself in a bind, as she is attracted to Odile Rose. Only when tech director Will explains the foolishness of believing in curses does Mel resist peer pressure and stage a dramatic “promposal” at the opening night curtain call, thereby publicly declaring her relationship with her actress girlfriend. Drama abounds—onstage and off—in this spirited tale of high school love and angst. As in Talley’s other novels, gay and bi relationships are accepted as “just part of life” by kids and adults (Mel has two dads, Will is openly gay), allowing the characters to freely discuss their romantic inclinations without backlash, and ethnic and racial diversity is the norm (Mel and Odile are white, Will is Black, and other characters are of various backgrounds). Theatrical jargon is generally explained in context, although “catwalk” is misidentified as a “narrow stretch of wire.” References to Broadway shows, theatrical traditions, and professional-level rehearsal procedures abound, especially in the “Stage Management notes” following each chapter—intriguing for aficionados and instructive for neophytes. The fast-paced dialogue propels the plot to a predictable but satisfying finale.
VERDICT An ultra-modern fiesta of theatrical joie de vivre for high school readers.

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