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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stacy’s Song by Jacqueline Seewald



Stacy’s Song by Jacqueline Seewald
Publisher: L&L Dreamspell
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: Short Story (143 pgs)
Heat: sweet
Rated 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Stacy’s talent and love for music forces her to make hard choices. Life is risky, but she must learn to make important decisions on her own.

Stacy Nelson, warm-hearted with a sense of humor, is a tall, skinny teenager, sometimes called “giraffe” by other kids. She’s an average student with a lot of extracurricular interests. Her good friend Karen wants Stacy to practice with her and try out for cheerleading. Liz Norris asks Stacy to join a band that she and her brother Michael are starting, but she has reservations.

Her first meeting with Michael Norris is stormy, yet she is drawn in by his outstanding musical ability and joins the band. Stacy always wants to please everyone, but fails to think about who she is and what she really wants.

After making the cheerleading squad, Greg Lawson, captain of the football team, becomes interested in Stacy. He is easy-going and charming, just the opposite of Michael. They start dating, and Stacy is suddenly popular in and out of school. As a cheerleader, she is accepted by the in-crowd. She tries to relax and enjoy this new lifestyle.

When Stacy has difficulty meeting all of her commitments and her grades fall, her father is displeased and insists she quit the band. Stacy feels torn—wanting to please her father without letting down the other band members. Ultimately, while dealing with family and peer pressure, she must decide what is best for her.

Fragile and dainty Stacy is not, but sensitive she sure is: as is anyone who doesn’t quite fit in in High School. Her awkwardness is due to her height - but somehow, her off-kilter sense of self makes her just plain awkward. She’s nice enough. With friends Karen and Liz, music, band, cheerleading (or potentially cheerleading) she has all the elements of a typically high school existence, but somehow Stacy is always comically on the wrong wave length.

We suspect she’s never going to achieve Karen’s goal of joining the ‘in’ crowd. Getting there isn’t a goal she’s dedicated to, but feeling unable to get there really makes her feel different. It holds her back – right up till she met a someone who was a lot further away from any central circle than she is. The most important part of this may not be Stacy’s changing perceptions of herself, but that piece was really the center for this reader, and I suspect will be for a good many others.

Oh, Stacy will grow in understanding, friendships – even skills. I suppose it wouldn’t do not to mention Ms. Seewald’s delicate handling of a person with an actual disability. In fact, its very humanizing how Michael is so strong-minded and even annoying, and how Stacy struggles to treat him differently, and then ends up just treating him as a person. She respects his skills, and that’s what matters. It’s well done and believable.

I still really just loved this for Stacy, for her sense of not fitting in, her sense of right and wrong, and her ability to speak what she is thinking. The tragedy of Liz and Michael’s lives might seem a little over the top (perhaps due to Liz’s particularly pathetic explanations) but it doesn’t slow the plot.

High school is complex though, partly because of the complexity of relationships. When Stacy gets her shot at the in crowd, (not to mention an ‘in’ guy) will she follow someone else’s dream – or her own heart?

This is a fun and speedy read, with a lead character you can’t help liking even when you are exasperated with her (that's okay, Stacy exasperates herself). She avoids total geekdom but somehow keeps missing the shallow heights of the high school social strata. You don’t have to be a teen to get a hoot out of this. Recommended.

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