Una LaMarche's fourth young adult novel, You in Five Acts, has crossover appeal for adult readers who may know her from her hilarious memoir, Unabrow: Misadventures of a Late Bloomer.
Set in Janus Academy, a prestigious Manhattan performing arts school, You in Five Acts follows five seniors--friends with one semester left to secure futures in competitive fields. LaMarche frames the novel in acts, each narrated by one of the five. The countdown to graduation begins January 6, but tension is set in the "Overture" with Diego confessing, "I swore I'd never let you down. I didn't know then it was a lie." Each of the friends directs his or her story to another: ballerina Joy to her longtime friend Diego, a "straight-boy ballet dancer"; privileged, beautiful but frenetic actress Liv to Dave, a charismatic new transfer from Los Angeles with acting cred; Ethan, a playwright from Staten Island who feels geographically excluded from the Manhattan crowd and harbors an unrequited love for Liv; Dave to Liv; and Diego to Joy. Their well-meaning parents provide support, and always lurking is Diego's cousin and antithesis, Dante, who deals drugs.
Friendships, romance and pressures overlap, as the final performances approach. As Liv's drug use escalates, her choices affect the quintet and foreshadow the novel's end. The fifth and closing act is also Diego's, dated May 13, and its culmination envelops readers within the angst, passion and vulnerability of young adults with lofty goals and complex emotions. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco