________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 20. . . . January 26, 2018


Casting Lily. (Orca Limelights).

Holly Bennett.
Victoria, BC: Orca, March, 2018.
128 pp., pbk., pdf & epub., $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978 1 4598 1450-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978 1 4598 1451-6 (pdf), ISBN 978 1 4598 1452-3 (epub).

Grades 6-9 / Ages 11-14.

Review by Review by Christina Pike.

**** /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



"Really. They called you back?"

It's Blond Boy, and while he doesn't exactly stress the you, his tone is pretty insulting all the same. So great, I'm auditioning with a full of himself dude who has already decided I'm not good enough. I feel a flare of anger, but I remember the lecture Ms. Lovell gave us: In real life, you can like a person or not I don't care. But when you're onstage, the only thing you feel for that person is what your character feels. I swallow Amy anger and offer a smile I hope looks real.

Stephen, the director, brings us in together. I notice Amanda sitting at the back of the room and say hi. She smiles but stays where she is observing, I guess. They've set up some props at the front of the room. A table and chairs and, to mark the doorway, one of those poles with hooks on it for hanging up coats. "Oh, and this," Stephen says gleefully, pulling out an old fashioned bonnet with a flourish and plopping it on Kiefer's head. I see Kiefer's mouth tighten, and suddenly I feel much more relaxed.


Casting Lily is a novel about 14-year-old Ava Olejarczyk who aspires to be an actress. She reads about a casting call at Mill Pond Theatre and is immediately excited and plans to go out for the audition. She only has to convince her friend Charlotte to take part and then her parents. Ava is uncertain which of the two will present the greater challenge to win over. The play is set back in time and tells the story of "home children", specifically three Barnardo children.

     Casting Lily is more than a story about a play. It is about family, friendship, doing a job well and being authentic. Ava grows as a character, as well as a young person, over the course of the summer. When she breaks her arm in a freak accident, she believes her lead role in the play has ended. It isn't until the director Stephen decides to write the break into the script that Ava realizes the show is going on which causes her some self doubt, but again Bennett shows Ava's growth. Ava's interactions with her parents also emphasize the role family members play and their influence on a young person as Ava tries to fit into this "acting" world. Finally Ava's interactions with the other actors, some her friends, some not, also show the value of friendship and the ability to put aside differences.

     Overall, Casting Lily is about the retelling of a piece of history but also about the main charactersí growth. A good read.

Highly Recommended

Christina Pike is the principal of Macdonald Drive Junior High in St. John's, NL.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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