FICTION

Unscripted

Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419740848.
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Gr 9 Up–Confident and talented, Zelda Bailey-Cho has her whole future planned out, and it starts at the Rocky Mountain Theatre Arts Camp, where she is offered a spot on the Varsity improv team, which has the chance to perform in front of industry professionals and elite camp alumni at the end of the summer. Not long after rehearsals start, however, Zelda starts to see the misogynistic atmosphere of camp. As the only female on Varsity, Zelda is often tasked with playing offensive stereotypical roles, such as a prostitute or “sexy secretary.” The boys on her team constantly put her down and find it hard to believe that she was the author of the funniest sketch. Her coach, 20-year-old Ben, only adds to the problem, yelling at Zelda in rehearsal and calling out her mistakes in front of the team. Outside of rehearsal, Ben is overly nice to Zelda, and as he makes romantic advances, she grows more and more uncomfortable. Things spiral out of control, and it is not until after an unwanted physical encounter with Ben that Zelda steps forward and speaks out. Kronzer skillfully brings to life the improv setting. The characters are authentic and friendships seem real, as does Zelda’s confusion over how to feel about Ben.
VERDICT The humor of improvisation does not detract from the powerful messages of consent and gender equality, but rather adds some lighthearted moments to a serious plot. Recommended for libraries serving teens.

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