Select one of the keywords
Only in the Movies    by William Bell order for
Only in the Movies
by William Bell
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday Canada, 2010 (2010)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Having just watched the movie Fame again on DVD, I was all set to enjoy William Bell's Only in the Movies. In it, Bell (award-winning author of Forbidden City, Stones and The Blue Helmet) tells the story of Jake Blanchard, a young man who identifies his passion early in life and follows his dream (scenes from Jake's amusing screenplays - such as Romeo and Juliet in Paradise or Bogey and Jake - are interspersed through his story).

Jake stumbles onto a movie set in the park at age twelve. When the shoot makes him realize that his 'imagination could operate on so many levels at once', he knows what he wants to do with his life - make movies. Though his father - who'd hoped his son would join him in Cyrus's Custom Cabinets and Carpentry - is disappointed, Jake is lucky in having a supportive dad who thinks outside the box and helps him get accepted to York School of the Arts, even though they don't have a screenwriting program.

At York, Vanni O'Riada shows up in Jake's English class, where he first notices her big nose, 'an edifice, a marvel of genetic engineering', and is impressed when she does a number 'that would have made Hamlet proud' on their condescending teacher, the Vulture. Friendship grows quickly between Jake, Vanni (a talented poet), and Jake's old friend Instant Grady (a musician). Then the lovely Alba Benedetti enrols at York and Jake is immediately smitten.

What follows is an amusing romp as Jake enlists Vanni's help in wooing Alba, while Alba begs the addled Jake to help her attract handsome Chad Bromley. Jake ends up working with Alba on their Big Projects (the grade key to college entrance) and the production is a disaster. When participants are assigned failing grades, Jake (as Stage Manager) stands up for the others and fights the system. At the same time, a family crisis makes him realize what - and who - is really important to him.

Whether or not you share Jake's dream, I highly recommend Only in the Movies to you as a delightful read, all about pursuing your passion in life, fighting injustice, making friends, and developing an understanding of what matters most.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Teens books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews