These are questions street dancer Elena Martinez faces as she struggles to compete against the most talented students at New York’s top Performing Arts High School. Along with her best friend, the cheeky and mischievous Sebastien Duval, they are determined to make center stage.
But the singing diva Letitia has other plans. Beautiful, talented and popular, her desire for revenge could ruin everything for Elena and Sebastien. Now, they must fight against prejudice, treachery and deceit as Letitia sets out to destroy Elena’s friendships, her romance, her dignity and her dreams. Can Elena win the battle for true love, happiness and success?
My rating: 6.5 out of 10 stars
(Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon.co.uk)
15-year-old Elena is starting school at Montacrue Performing Arts School, a prestigious dance and drama school in New York. This is something that Elena has dreamed about for a long time, and she’s determined to make a success of herself.
Although the school is new to her though, she does have one friend starting with her – Sebastian, who’s been her best friend for two years and knows her better than anyone else.
Elena really wants to concentrate on her grades and her dancing and acting, but she doesn’t bank on meeting Jay, who she instantly is attracted to.
The problem is that Jay is the resident mean-girl’s brother, and Letitia is not happy about Elena dating her brother.
Who will be most successful and get the leads in the school plays though? Can Elena and Jay really make a relationship work with Letitia’s incessant interfering? And does Sebastian really only think of Elena as a friend?
This was a pretty typical high-school story, with mean girls, cute boys, and of course – a love triangle. The difference is that Montacrue is a dance and drama school, so there was a large dose of acting and dancing, competitions, and theatre productions thrown in.
Elena was really into her dancing and acting, and really went the extra mile to try and be the best, even when what she was doing took her out of her comfort zone. Elena was also not afraid to stand up for herself, and I liked that she protested when Jay was pressurising her to have sex with him.
Jay was quite honestly my least favourite character in this book. He started off seeming like a real sweetheart, but quickly began acting like an absolute poo-head, and pressurising Elena to do stuff she didn’t want to do. When something bad then happened to him, I felt a little sorry for Elena, but really didn’t feel sorry for him.
Sebastian and Elena’s other friends all had their own little quirks, although Elena was pretty blind to the fact that Seb had feelings for her.
There were also several difficult issues dealt with in this book – underage/unprotected sex, and drugs and alcohol misuse. Although these issues are balanced out by the joy Elena felt whilst dancing and acting.
Overall; older teens YA novel, about dancing, as well as some more difficult subjects.
6.5 out of 10.
Interview with the author -
When did you start writing?
I wrote before high school but actually hated creative writing in high school - preferring to do essays! Then I used to entertain my friends with my disastrous travel adventures by email, but apart from that, hadn't really written anything. Then all of a sudden, I had an urge to write this book. I didn't know how it would all work out or how much I wanted to keep doing it!
What was your inspiration for ‘Passion and Pain’?
Somehow, I knew this was the book I wanted to write. I have always loved the performing arts as an amateur - singing, dancing, acting and wanted to share some experiences from my adolescence that these characters then experienced. These two elements combined to create this unique story.
What three words would you use to best describe ‘Passion and Pain’?
Heartfelt, dramatic, emotional
What are your favourite things about the character Elena Martinez?
I love her determination and work ethic. I love her innocence, her loyalty and affection for her friends and her heart.
Is ‘Passion and Pain’ a standalone novel or will this be part of a series?
It is actually part of a series. Bittersweet, is the sequel to Passion and Pain. The plan is to have other books that involve characters who are dancers or performers of some sort, though not necessarily at the same school or part of the same clique.
Can you tell us about your other books? (If you have any)
This is my first novel with Bittersweet, the sequel already in draft.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment? (If you are)
I am working on the sequel to Passion and Pain - Bittersweet, as well as a contemporary play that I hope to produce when I return to Sydney in December. I have also started a third book - a political thriller. There are so many other things I also want to do but each project takes so much time and energy that it's hard to keep up!
Other than your own, what are your favourite books?
Some books that I've read recently that I have liked are, The Help, Me Before You, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Harry Potter but I also like to read John Grisham or Jeffrey Archer sometimes - I have quite a mixed taste in books.
- what’s your favourite treat?
Hmmm, but my greatest weakness is cream - cream in cakes or on top of them especially on apple pie.
- What’s your Favourite place to read/write?
I don't really have a place. I usually read when I travel - buses, trains, planes. When I write I prefer to write in the morning as my concentration dies down in the afternoon but usually just on the dining room table is fine.
- If you won the lottery what would you most look forward to spending money on?
I would like to create my own performing arts school in Sydney - that would be first choice. I've travelled the world and I'm not really a shopper so creating my own school would be wonderful.
- If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
It depends. I love living in London and hope to spend a year in New York also. But if I had children, I think Sydney is the best place to be - it's a big city but still safe enough to raise a family - a good blend of city and suburbia, plus my family is there.a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to Kathy for stopping by the blog!
1 lucky winner will win an ecopy of 'Passion and Pain' (INT)