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The Taming    by Eric Walters & Teresa Toten order for
by Eric Walters
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday Canada, 2012 (2012)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Eric Walters (author of excellent YA novels on surviving catastrophe like Shaken, Safe as Houses and We All Fall Down) teams up with Teresa Toten in The Taming, a modern story loosely based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. In fact a production of that play is central to this tale.

The story's heroine, Katie Rosario, has long survived by making herself invisible - at home, where she does her best to avoid her mother's eruptions and her mother's boyfriends, and at school, where her family poverty keeps her on the fringes. She finally has friends, though - flamboyant Emo-boy Travis who wears eye makeup and is the play's director, and antisocial Lisa, who sees shrinks.

Everything changes for Katie when her drama teacher insists that she audition for the lead role in Taming of the Shrew ... 'Invisible Katie became visible Katherina. Every nerve ending fired and I came alive.' Schoolmates are impressed by her onstage talent. Her home situation improves too as her mom's latest boyfriend, Joey, seems decent and caring.

Then we meet the tale's antihero, wealthy, slick, manipulative Evan Campbell, whose abusive father constantly belittles him and who was expelled from private school. Evan starts working backstage but ends up with the leading role - in the play and as Katie's boyfriend. Gradually, he sets out to control her life and wean her away from her loser friends.

You can see where this is going, can't you? But, though Katie lacks self-confidence, she has good friends to rely on, and has a strong spirit like the fiery, feisty woman whose role she plays on stage. She finally stands up for herself, even though it hurts her badly. And though Evan thinks he's taming Katie, that's not what happens at all.

I highly recommend The Taming to you. It shows two young people from dark backgrounds, who deal with what their families have done to them in different ways. And all of this is set against the backdrop of Shakespeare's incredible play. Don't miss this one!

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