CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 37 . . . . May 25, 2018
Dominique is a high school junior from Trenton who goes on a class trip to Carnegie Hall where she is star-struck by a young violinist in the orchestra. Eventually she is able to find him and learns that his name is Ben. The two immediately fall in love, and this doesn't change despite Ben's learning they are from different backgrounds and socio-economic classes and that Dominique hasn't been honest with him. Ben has his own issues as well, and, despite her efforts, Dominique cannot save him from the mental illness which is gradually taking over his life. Honesty in relationships is a major theme of the novel.
At first glance, Someday, Somewhere seems like a typical young adult novel with "love at first sight" as another prominent theme. However, the initial physical attraction between Dominique and Ben changes and deepens as each learns to appreciate the interests and intellect of the other, and their love becomes more realistic and believable.
Dominique changes and grows during the novel. She helps her mother at a laundromat and wants nothing more than to get both of them out of the cycle of poverty they endure. Only gradually does she understand her self-worth and realize that she is valuable and deserves more. Eventually, she takes the necessary steps to fulfill her ambitious dream of attending college to become a professional dancer.
Ben, on the other hand, has enjoyed a privileged lifestyle centered on his musical ability. He is obsessed by being the best classical violinist he can be and pulls readers into his driven and intense world of rehearsals, lessons and competitions. Little by little, we watch him unravel as stress takes over his life. We realize eventually that Ben is bipolar, and this mental illness threatens to take away everything for which he has strived.
It seems that opposites really do attract, at least according to author Lindsay Champion. Both main characters are interested in music, but, while Ben is classically trained, Dom prefers songs from old musicals. The book title is a reference to this as the words can be found in one of the songs of West Side Story. Their relationship grows despite Dom's initial lies about her background. Only when she is honest with Ben does their attraction deepen. This is a major step on Dominique's road to loving herself for who she is and being open to sharing her real self with others.
Supporting characters are interesting but serve mostly to help readers understand Dominique and Ben. Cass is a true friend for Dominique, supporting when necessary and pushing her when she wants to quit. Her mother is also a constant character, working hard to provide what she can for her daughter and setting an example of independence. Ben's brother Milo is the only realistic one in the family, and he seems to understand Ben's idiosyncrasies and illness long before Ben and his parents admit there is a problem.
Champion has chosen to write the novel from two points of view, with chapters alternating between Ben and Dom. This gives readers an opportunity to appreciate what is happening in Ben's head as he struggles with manic episodes which make him forget to eat and sleep while he concentrates on the same few bars of music for hours. Readers also understand how important it is for Dominique to overcome her background and focus on her dream of living and dancing in New York City. Champion keeps chapters relatively short which helps to move and focus the story. Like the musical titles for each section suggest, the book begins rather slowly and then grows in intensity until the 'presto' or fast movement right at the end.
Someday, Somewhere presents two young adults facing quite different challenges, and Champion does not provide a fairy tale ending. Readers will be engaged by both main characters and their respective struggles. In this debut novel, Lindsay Champion has presented interesting characters, a plot that keeps readers both entertained and involved and the setting of New York City and its art scene which becomes a secondary character in the book.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired high school teacher-librarian and teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, ON.
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