________________ CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 18 . . . . January 13, 2012


The Taming.

Eric Walters & Teresa Toten.
Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2012.
229 pp., pbk., $14.95.
ISBN 978-0-385-67658-8.

Grades 8-12 / Ages 13-17.

Review by Rob Bittner.

*** /4

Reviewed from Uncorrected Proof.



And my head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! I was someone else, but as that someone, I was heard and I was seen. Invisible Katie became visible Katherina. Every nerve ending fired and I came alive. You'd think I would have choked and screwed up my speeches. But I didn't, not once. Unbelievable. I liked being up there, and it immediately became very, very important that I stay up there. Somehow I was more me on that stage than I was anywhere else. I didn't understand it, but there it was.

The first miracle was that when the cast list was posted yesterday, Katie Rosario had been picked for Shakespeare's shrew.

The Taming, a collaborative effort by Eric Walters and Teresa Toten, is the story of Katie - a girl who has just discovered her love of the stage - and Evan - a young man who almost never stops acting, especially when he's off the stage. Katie finds her love of theatre, and shortly thereafter she falls for the new kid in school, Evan. Evan, meanwhile, is a former upper class, private school student who has suddenly shown up at Katie's school with no explanation for the step down. The two fall in love - if it can truly be called that - as they work together on a school production of The Taming of the Shrew. As they navigate their own separate spheres of friends and family and as their lives begin to overlap, their relationship begins to change in ways that neither of them want to admit.

      My main issue regarding this book is Evan's character, which is static more often than not. I want to feel sorry for him later in the novel, especially because of his unstable family situation, but I could not bring myself to ever get beyond a feeling of speculation regarding his intentions. Evan's treatment of Katie is incredibly manipulative at the best of times, and the justifications for his behaviour are not altogether convincing. Katie is more believable as a character, but she still feels overly simple at times, until the very end when she suddenly has an abrupt change of attitude. I almost felt as if the secondary characters had more well-rounded personalities than the protagonists at times. This could be just because I could not identify with the protagonists, however.

      All that being said, the book, overall, is definitely not without merit. The story begins lightly and moves quickly, changing to a deeper and more complex dynamic by mid-way through the novel. The relationship between Katie and Evan is full of twists and turns and is both enviable at times and downright frightening at others. Emotional manipulation, fights, making up, sex, abuse - it's all here in one fast read. This collaborative work is bound to catch the attention of teens and fans of books that look beyond the fluff and sparkle of so many teen romances.


Rob Bittner is a graduate of the MA in Children's Literature program at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.

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