Narrator: Stacey Glemboski
Length: 4 Hours, 45 Minutes
Published by Self-Published on January 6th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction
The high school play is in two months and senior Wren Barlow just became director. Wren still isn't over the fact that she got stiffed as a stagehand instead of the lead role that she totally deserved. Now she is in charge of rehearsals, costumes, navigating around cast member hookups and managing the real life drama at home.
The principal counts on her to succeed because tickets have been sold and the money has been spent. But when he drops a gorgeous bad boy on her and wants him to help the play for extra credit, she falls hard for someone she knows she can't date. With everything spinning out of control, the mysterious and secretive detention king named Derek has a few tricks up his sleeve and wants to help—too bad Wren is scared to give him a chance to prove himself.
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review.
Wow, it’s been nearly two years since I’ve last written an audiobook review, and I feel like I’m in familiar shoes with no clue what to do.
Understudy follows Wren Barlow, who auditions for the school play in the hopes of winning the lead role and adding it to her college resume. Instead of getting the lead role, however, she ends up as a stagehand manager and later gets thrown into directing the play after her aunt suddenly quits. With tickets already sold, though, Wren is stuck handling everything from rehearsals to costumes along with her drama at home.
I don’t ever recall reading a story centered around a play, and I thought it was fascinating to have the opportunity to see what it is like working with a play as I never got the chance to do so during high school (I never had the time). The growing romance between Wren and Derek is cute, and I love how realistic the obstacles are getting in the way of them having a relationship throughout the book. (Not the cutest couple I’ve ever read, but still on the cute radar.)
However, Understudy has a little problem: there are a few stereotypes and assumptions laced throughout the book. (Maybe it’s just me and my personal preferences.)
- Wren’s aunt thinks she is too fat to fit into the lead role of the play. “You did a fantastic job, butttt I believe you’re too fat for the role.”
- Math obsessed geeks? Never could have pegged them as someone to get a Hello Kitty case? So who would you “peg” to get a Hello Kitty case then?
- Boys just care about boobs from birth? This one is probably more true than not.
Fortunately for the first problem, Wren is not a character who flaunts the same beliefs her aunt has – she does not believe she’s too fat for the play and thinks she should have been selected on her talents. (From an acting standpoint, directors probably choose the person based on the looks, but saying a person is too fat for the role doesn’t help their self-esteem. Sadly, this probably occurs more often in the entertainment industry than it is actually wanted.)
Looking past that, though, Understudy is a fun book to read with a cute romance to boot.
Understudy is the first book I listened to without actually following along with a book version. (When I first started I was scared I would get hopelessly lost, so I never got an audiobook if the ebook wasn’t available to borrow.) Understudy is performed by Stacey Glemboski, whose credits also include Slave by Laura Frances, Grimm House by Karen McQuestion, and more.
Glemboski is an expressive storyteller – although there are a few bland moments throughout, she brings the characters to life with their own distinctions, and she gives Wren a sarcastic humor that wouldn’t otherwise be noticed in physical format. It also felt like I was listening to someone telling me a story from their past while having coffee and dozing off in a pleasant way or daydreaming but still taking in what the other person is saying.
Understudy is one of my first audiobooks told by Stacey Glemboski, and her performance is one of the reasons why I finished the book. Having an audiobook version felt like it fit in with the school play theme Cheyanne Young centers the story around, and I think Glemboski did a good job with her performance.