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Rival Hardcover – Feb 7 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tween (Tw) (Feb. 7 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061827622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061827624
  • Product Dimensions: 15.1 x 2.9 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,682,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“This quick paced and solid debut novel has all the drama of real high school. Think Glee, only with chamber music.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Wealer’s debut novel establishes realistic situations and dialogue, empathy for all sorts of teens, and challenging themes that command a reader’s thought and attention. These complex, interesting, believable protagonists will satisfy many readers who pick up the book expecting a lighter sort of musical read and instead find real substance.” (Booklist)

“Fast paced and readable. The frequent musical references give the story an original twist.” (School Library Journal)

“Wealer has done a wonderful job creating intensity in the characters. Rival will be gobbled up by teens who have enjoyed books such as Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars as well as teens looking for a fast-paced, action-filled story.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))

“Wealer has a talent for depicting the fragile moments on which friendships are made and broken.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A balanced, insightful picture of the ups and downs of a friendship undone by envy.” (Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books)

“Awesome, awesome, and more awesome. Not one wrong note.” (Lauren Myracle, New York Times bestselling author)

“This book gets it all exactly right—friendships, envy, and the fact that you can never truly know another person.” (Sara Zarr, National Book Award finalist)

About the Author

Sara Bennett Wealer grew up in Manhattan, Kansas (the "Little Apple"), where she sang with the show choir and wrote for her high school newspaper. She majored in voice at the University of Kansas before deciding she had no business trying to become an opera singer.

Sara now lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two daughters, and she still sings when her schedule allows.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
When I first started the story I was very sympathetic towards Kathryn. I mean at first glance, Brooke is gorgeous and popular with a seemingly perfect life so why does she hate Kathryn so much? What could Kathryn possibly have done to get her ostracized by so many of her peers? Told in alternating viewpoints between Kathryn and Brooke and switching from junior to senior year you will see the history between these two girls and what has made them rivals.

The more I read the more I understood each girls viewpoint on the situation. Their once friendship was riddled with misunderstandings. If only the two girls would come clean to each from the beginning then there wouldn't be all this tension between the two...but I guess if that happened, then we wouldn't have this wonderful story. Recommended for all you Glee fans out there...who knew choir could be so competitive.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa4069a2c) out of 5 stars 38 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3f4648c) out of 5 stars High School Rivalry Meets Its Match Feb. 18 2011
By Bonnie Lynn Wagner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
High school is where memories are made, be they good or bad. Whether you're popular or an outcast, you remember that time of your life. Sara Bennett Wealer's debut novel, Rival, recaptures high school through the eyes of two girls who couldn't be more different...or more alike. Kathryn and Brooke are two seniors competing for the same prestigious music scholarship. Kathryn is a soprano with a light, airy voice, while Brooke is an alto, her sound rich and deep. Brooke is rich and one of the most popular girls at school while Kathryn is poor and a social outcast. Their love of music should bring these two girls together in the ultimate friendship, but instead, they're bitter rivals.

The novel flips between "current day" (senior year) and flashbacks of junior year when everything went wrong. This isn't done in an annoying way, however. Each year is focused on from both points of view for quite a few chapters before flipping back again. Rival is so tightly written that readers want to know what happened junior year to make Kathryn and Brooke such bitter rivals. They keep alluding to something, so by the time you find out, you're just dying to know. Wealer did a spectacular job building suspense and keeping the story feeling natural.

Rivals focuses on relationships, but not the romantic kind. While there's a brush of romance thrown in, it's very blink-and-you-miss-it. While boy drama is involved, the male species is not the focal point of this novel: The relationship between the two rivals is. It's refreshing to read a book with this type of outlook. There's so much more to life than boys, but you'd never know it perusing today's YA market. Friendship and rivalry is very much a part of our daily life, especially in high school. At one point, Kathryn and Brooke were on the point of being friends. If what went down junior year hadn't gotten in the way, they would have most likely been best friends. They're so obsessed with music and have so much in common, but it's all overlooked due to their intense dislike of one another.

The relationship between the girls is another place where Wealer got it right. Because she chose to write from the POV of both characters, readers get a multi-faceted look at them as human beings. If we had read the book from just one perspective, we'd be looking through the flawed eyes of that one character. The remaining girl would automatically be a villain. It's amazing to see the same situation through two pairs of eyes. For example, at one point, Kathryn gets complimented on her singing and smiles at one of her choir friends, but Brooke thinks she's being smug and going, "So there!" at her to rub it in. In another instance, Kathryn thinks Brooke's homecoming platform revolves around her and the fact that her family is poor, but Kathryn's circumstances never crossed Brooke's mind when putting everything together. It's just amazing to see the way both girls become flawed, individual characters, neither right nor wrong. There are times when I really detest Brooke's character, but others when Kathryn is out of line as well. Ultimately, I cared for them both and wanted to know how everything ultimately turns out for them.

Harper's art department also got it right: Rival's design will make all the other books on the shelf jealous. I love the bright, eye-catching red. That is one gorgeous flower. I also love the significance of the one petal pulled away from the rest, alluding to the fractured relationship between two girls. Even better, the piano on the cover hints at the fact that the novel revolves around the world of music. I also love the fonts used on both the cover and inside chapter headers. In addition, each chapter details what girl's POV we're reading, with a curl at the end that reminds me strongly of a music note. There's a beautiful curl at the bottom of each page where the number is as well.

The last thing I want to point out that I love about Rival is the fact that it's centered around the arts. With so many programs being cut these days, it's refreshing to see an author focus on such students. Not only that, the high school choir is really good and constantly in competitions. Singers are regularly nominated for prestigious prizes such as the prestigious Blackmore scholarship Kathryn and Brooke are competing for. In addition, they don't focus on modern-day pop hits the way the students in Glee do. Instead, they listen to musicals, study Stephen Sondheim, and sing hard opera songs. These are some truly talented students and, music lover that I am, I adore the way Wealer gave us a glimpse into the world of pre-professional singers.

I'm so happy with how much music is in the media right now. Love it or hate it, Glee is a phenomenon in and of itself that has paved the road for more music-centered TV shows. Rival will hopefully be popular with teens as well. Fellow 2011 debut author Jessica Martinez will release Virtuosity, focused on rivalry in the world of orchestra students, this time a boy and girl competing in the prestigious Guarneri competition. If you enjoyed Rival, I think you'll want to read this as well. I know I do! In fact, Martinez released cover art this week and it is hot, hot, HOT!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3f464e0) out of 5 stars Fabulous! Feb. 16 2011
By reader abroad - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I echo all the sentiments of the previous review (Tara Gonzalez)! I also didn't expect to like this as much as I did...but I stayed up reading half the night because I couldn't put it down until it was over. I thought it would be a tale of popular girl vs. not-so popular girl and non-popular girl triumphs (as has been done so many ways before), but it wasn't like that at all. Actually, it was so much deeper than that, and now that I think about it, none of the characters/relationships were cliche at all. I also wasn't sure if I would like it because I am not really into Glee, or singing, or choirs etc., but that subplot was woven so effortlessly with high school life that I loved it. I highly recommend, and can't wait for this author's next book!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3f46918) out of 5 stars A bittersweet story of friends-turned-enemies Feb. 25 2011
By Fiktshun - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No matter which side of the fence you're on, the grass always appears greener on the other side.

For Kathryn Pease, her one-time best friend Brooke Dempsey has everything. She's popular, confident and stylish. She has money. She lived in New York. She's been to the Met. She wouldn't be stuck in Minnesota after high school. For someone like Brooke there are endless possibilities. Brooke isn't hanging all her hopes on winning the Blackmore competition like she is.

For Brooke, Kathryn is the lucky one. She is beautiful and petite. Her voice is flawless. She has a father who loves her and a family who acts like a family should. She doesn't have two brothers who put her down. There is no way Kathryn could want out of Minnesota as badly as she does. And most of all she doesn't have to disguise who she is or justify her passion for music to anyone. Kathryn doesn't need to win the Blackmore competition like she does.

As these two former best-friends get ready for the biggest competition of their lives will they let their personal rivalry get in the way of their success?


Rival is a beautifully written, bittersweet story about two girls who are friends-turned-enemies, both with the same appreciation for and love of music, and each who envies something the other has.

Their friendship is doomed from the start as each girl, for very different reasons, cannot be honest with the other, which leads to some rather unfortunate misunderstandings and ultimately to its collapse.

Each chapter alternates between Brooke's and Kathryn's perspective and also between the present and the events that led up to the breakdown of their friendship. Readers get the opportunity to see both sides and may find that assigning blame isn't quite so easy.

Rival is quite a surprise and so much more than just a "mean girls" story. It is far more richly developed than it would seem based on the title and description.

This is not merely a snarky, one-upmanship that escalates into a showdown with one man standing. Author Sara Bennett Wealer has given her characters much more depth and complexity than is typical in this type of story, allowing readers to feel compassion for both the underdog and the bully.

But, it is still in keeping with other stories in this genre and tremendously entertaining. It's got jealousy, diabolical pranks, a complete social freeze-out, a herd of A-Lister followers ready, willing and able to do whatever the Queen B says, and the requisite lovable geeky friend waiting in the wings ready to pick up the pieces.

Even in a month with so many great releases, Rival is a debut that you will not want to miss. Author Sara Bennett Wealer is an exceptional writer and one to keep on your watch list!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3f46900) out of 5 stars Music to my.....eyes (but you don't have to like music to love this one!) Feb. 16 2011
By Reading Teen - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Ok, I know this sounds bad, but I didn't really expect to like this book all that much. I'm not really into music (at least not the kind of music Kathryn and Brooke are into) so I thought I would get totally lost in all the music talk. But I was so wrong!

This book took me on such an emotional roller coaster ride! It alternated (each chapter) from Kathryn's point of view to Brooke's. I love this type of writing. I feel like you get a much better idea of who the characters are when they are described by themselves, and then by someone else as well. About the first I hated Brooke, and I liked Kathryn. Then I didn't like Kathryn and I started liking Brooke. Then I realized that I hated them both. And I realized I loved them both. I felt like I was nothing like Kathryn or Brooke and that I couldn't relate to them at all. Then I felt like I was EXACTLY like Kathryn and Brooke and could relate to them completely! I was angry with them and angry at them. I cheered for them and crossed my fingers for them. All this just goes to show how emotional invested I was in these characters. A sure sign of a fantastic story!

It's funny because there isn't that much in the way of romance in this book (there is a little) but I almost had the same emotions that I have in a romance. The miscommunications, misunderstandings, jealousy, spitefulness, pride, desire (although it's desire for friendship) were all there. I've never felt this way about a book about friends before. I got so frustrated by the way that they treated each other, and let each other down. I just wanted them to see how much they meant to each other, and how good they could be together if they would only stop being so prideful, insecure, and jealous.

Once I started reading this book, I could not put it down! The only thing I didn't care for was the profanity (which contemporary YA seems to not be able to live without). Mostly I just devoured it and loved it!

If you love music, you will undoubtedly adore this book. If you don't, trust will love it anyway.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa3f46dbc) out of 5 stars An absolutely fantastic debut! May 30 2011
By Sarah - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I have nothing but love for Rival-lots and lots and lots of LOVE. To be completely honest, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of this book because I've never been involved with choir or anything. I didn't know if I'd be able to relate with the characters. But then I heard my students raving about Rival and telling me how I needed to read it ASAP. Let me tell you, I connected with and adored Brooke and Kathryn.

Rival is going to make my Top 10 list at the end of the year. I know there are still tons of books to release, but I seriously loved this book. (Yes, I've said that a few times already). Sara Bennett Wealer wrote this so we get both Brooke's and Kathryn's perspectives currently and a year previously. This kept me hooked and turning the pages because I wanted to know their friendship and rivalry inside and out. Kathryn and Brooke both show their bad sides, but there's always an underlying vulnerability there to remind you of who they really are and the friendship they had. It's a wonderful thing when an author creates such layered characters.

Unfortunately, a couple of my students accidentally ruined the ending for me. Both times it happened when they were returning the book and talking about how they just couldn't believe... Well, I'm not ruining the ending for anyone. All I'll say is that despite knowing what was going to happen, I was pleased with how it ended :) I was bummed when it ended, but that's because I wanted to keep reading!

Sara Bennett Wealer has a written a strong debut that is sure to win over many readers. I know a lot of people are comparing it to Glee, and even though I don't watch that show, I do know that Rival deserves better than that. These characters aren't in a glee club. They're serious singers, singing serious songs, working towards a prestigious scholarship. I'm sure those that enjoy that show will like Sara's book, but I still felt the need to put that opinion out there. Sara is a fabulous author and I CAN'T WAIT to read more from her! I love Rival like I love Sarah Dessen's books.