Meet Audrey Cuttler. After spending a long time considering whether or not to break up with her boyfriend, Evan, she makes a list of reasons why she should stay with him. It had so many more cons than pros that she decides to finally break it off, and she tells him so. They have a good cry and agree to be friends. As she leaves the room, he calls after her, "Audrey, wait!" She pretends that she doesn't hear him and keeps going.
That night, Evan has a gig with his band, The Do-Gooders. Audrey attends the show with her best friend Victoria and Victoria's boyfriend, Jonah. No one is more surprised than Audrey when Evan closes the night with a brand-new song called "Audrey, Wait!" The title character is overwhelmed, feeling embarrassed, mortified, and shocked all at once.
Things only get more uncomfortable for her when The Do-Gooders get 'discovered' and land a record deal. The higher the song climbs on the music charts, the more eyes are on Audrey. Once it becomes an international hit and Evan talks about what (and who) inspired the song, Audrey can't go anywhere without being recognized by someone or answer her phone for fear that it will be another reporter trying to get the inside scoop. She just wants to scoop ice cream at the Scooper Dooper, her afteschool job, without being hounded by paparazzi and strangers who take pictures of her on their cell phones.
Soon, Audrey can't even attend her normal classes at school any more because the administration thinks she's a 'distraction,' so they make her do her schoolwork by herself in a small room on campus. The quarantine turns out to be a good thing, as Audrey's grades improve, but she still wishes she could go back to living her normal, unremarkable life. Victoria starts to act as her spokesperson, intercepting calls from the press and protecting her best friend's privacy (well, sort of), and Audrey becomes friendly with James, her Scooper Dooper co-worker, who also becomes protective of her.
Audrey's never been more grateful for her goofy, laid-back parents and her huge cat, Bendolomena. Audrey's household seemed comfy and happy. I recognized the comfort she sought in her pet, and I really liked the depiction of her parents. They were understandably concerned for their daughter's safety and privacy, but they weren't overprotective, nor were they too relaxed. They were naturally funny characters, rather than trying too hard to be hip, and they had a really good relationship with their daughter. This allows Audrey to speak to them openly and honestly, like this:
"Yeah, I know, Dad, I wasn't expecting this, either! And at least you got a guidebook, y'know? Parents have, like, a million books telling them how to raise kids, but there's nothing telling me how to be a teenager! I'm doing the best I can too!" - Page 151
What about Evan? He pops up now and then, as needed, especially towards the end of the book. Thankfully, he doesn't become egotistical. It's clear that he's just riding the wave and trying to stay afloat. I really liked the fact that both Audrey and Evan meant well. Audrey didn't want to hurt Evan; she just realized that they weren't totally compatible. Evan was never cruel, not while they were dating, not after they broke up, and he never seeks revenge on her. The song isn't mean-spirited, and neither is he.
All throught the story, Audrey is confident, even when she doesn't think she is. There's an admirable ease about her. Once, while talking to James, she comments on being self-aware, and he responds that she's the most self-aware person he's ever meet. Later, in an atypical moment when Audrey holds something back, her father says in surprise, "Since when have you been a spectator?" Like me, Audrey knows what she likes and what she doesn't like, and she likes being in control of her life.
The dialogue sounds like you're really listening to conversations, especially those between Audrey and Victoria. (I laughed out loud when Victoria said twitterpated!) The book has a lot of musical references, ranging from classic rock to modern pop. Each chapter begins with a song lyric, citing the song title and band. Benway really captures how it feels before and after attending a really good concert, as well as during it. Listen to this description of Audrey and Victoria on their way to a show:
"[W]e were both sailing on sugar and french fries and adrenaline. We wouldn't be coming down for a while." - Page 88
"Their choruses made you wish you could fly, and we drove so fast on those nights, the orange streetlights lighting our way, taking us home." - Page 95
A few more of my favorite quotes from the book:
I looked at James.
He looked at me.
My mom looked at me.
James looked at my mom.
My mom looked at James.
I looked at my mom.
- Page 223
I sank into the kitchen chair and stared at James. "I'm having a life crisis. Pass me the Teddy Grahams."
He handed over the box. "All that's left are little paws and legs in the bottom of the box," he said. "It's a massacre." - Page 239
If you couldn't tell already, I really liked Audrey, Wait! I recommend it to teens and adults, especially those who enjoyed Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. This is a fun, fast-paced story that is as good as it sounds. Though some things - like people posting video footage and pictures of Audrey online - are very modern, overall, it's never SO right-now uber-trendy that it's annoying or would feel dated in a year or two. It's simply what it would be, were this to happen to someone now. This is because of the person at the heart of the story - Audrey, a girl who doesn't want to be famous, she just wants to be herself.
I included this book in Veg Out While Other People Cook, my Thanksgiving article for SparkNotes Literature.
Read my interview with author Robin Benway.
Read my review of Robin Benway's second novel, The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May & June.
Watch Robin's shoutout to readergirlz.
Related Booklist: But I Don't Want to Be Famous!