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Allegra by Shelley Hrdlitschka
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289602,496 (3.3)1
Allegra thinks being at a performing-arts high school will change her life and make her a better dancer. But high school is still high school, complete with cliques, competition and cruelty. Allegra's refuge comes in the form of a class she doesn't want to take-music theory, taught by a very young, very attractive male teacher. Soon all Allegra can think about is music composition-and Mr. Rochelli. But has she misunderstood his attention, or is he really her soul mate?… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Allegra had some ups and downs for me. I found it to be simultaneously really unbelievable but also somewhat captivating. The story was underdeveloped and the characters a bit two dimensional - i.e. Allegra's friends' sudden about-face, Allegra's seemingly not-so-huge obsession with dance, Mr. Rocchelli's ignorance of propriety. But Allegra's passion for her composition project and the descriptions of the project itself held the book together for me and carried me to the end, even making me a bit emotional at times despite my difficulties with the book as a whole. Overall, an okay read - I did enjoy it, but am glad that it took only a few hours of my time and will not be picking it up again. ( )
  curioussquared | Aug 22, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"Allegra" is a very well-written and compelling read, with more realistic treatments of issues and authentic characterizations than your average teen read. Allegra herself is a fascinating character--it was wonderful having the heroine be a shy, reclusive person and not changing her personality to please everyone around her. Brava! ( )
  FutureMrsJoshGroban | May 21, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I was drawn to ALLEGRA by the summary, which promised both music and dance. Allegra Whitman transferred to a performing-arts high school to focus on dance -- her parents are both musicians, but she doesn't want to follow in their footsteps. But the school requirements mean she has to take music theory.

ALLEGRA deals with several thorny subjects. One subplot involves her parents' unhappy marriage. But the biggest thorny subject is that of student-teacher relationships. Allegra develops a crush on her music theory teacher Mr. Rochelli. He's young, attractive, challenges her, and respects her abilities. It's no wonder she crushes. When they start working on a composition together, he does act unprofessionally by treating her as a fellow professional rather than a student. They meet after school, use first names, et al. But I think Shelley Hrdlitschka does draw a clear line between Mr. Rochelli being a bit too chummy and actually returning Allegra's affections.

Part of the reason Allegra is drawn to her teacher is that she's quite introverted and has trouble making friends. Some kids at her new school do reach out, most notably fellow music theory student Spencer. Still, a few friendly overtures don't make it simple for Allegra to develop lasting friendships. My problem with the friends plotline is that all her prospective friends drop out of the story completely after one of them brings Mr. Rochelli and Allegra's relationship to the attention of the administration. They're totally demonized. I get that Allegra would feel that way, but . . . I just felt like they weren't the worst. Trying to help someone you think is in a bad situation is a good thing.

The few dance scenes in ALLEGRA are beautifully described, but this is mostly a music book. Allegra's composition consumes her life and her relationships. It is very wish fulfillment that her composition is brilliant, but the book does try to ground it by first establishing that she's very familiar with music theory and performance. And some of my favorite musicians started writing wonderful songs even younger than seventeen. What really crosses it over into unbelievable territory is that she's also talented enough as a dancer to consider going professional.

ALLEGRA is a quick read despite the difficult subjects it tackles. I think it will be of most interest to readers who enjoy books about musicians and dancers. Hrdlitschka does a wonderful job of writing about a teacher-student relationship in a realistic, rational way. There is drama in ALLEGRA, but little hysteria and no fear-mongering. Allegra can be frustration, but that's pretty average for a seventeen-year-old girl. ALLEGRA isn't, however, the best choice for someone looking for a really exciting read. It's fairly low key. ( )
  Liviania | Apr 24, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Shelley Hrdlitschka’s latest novel for teens focuses on an issue that is rarely discussed in Canadian YA literature; the relationship between student and teacher, and when that relationship becomes inappropriate.

The novel opens with Allegra starting at a new school. She is committed to being a dancer, and wants a schedule that reflects her interests. However, her counselor advises her that she has been signed up for a music appreciation class with a new teacher. Allegra does what she can to get out of the class, but bargains with the teacher to redirect her focus, and sets to work composing an extended piece of music. During the long hours she spends in the music room working on her piece, she gets to know more about her teacher, Mr. Rochelli. They get closer, and when Mr. Rochelli asks Allegra to call him by his first name she feels there has been a significant change in their relationship.

Although I found the content of the novel somewhat unsettling (I work in a high school), I did think that Hrdlitshcka’s portrayal of the situation was authentic, and she hit just the right note. All of the characters in the novel were well-drawn; in particular, the scenes that focused on Allegra’s parents’ relationship, and their different musical career choices were interesting. I’m not sure whether or not I liked Allegra as a main character, but I was certainly drawn in by the plot of the novel. I’ll be recommending this to my teenage library patrons, and will be interested to hear their views… ( )
1 vote chazzard | Apr 2, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I really love any movie or book that has to do with music or dancing, so I was really eager to get into this one. And the summary hinted about a relationship between Allegra and her super cute teacher, which is a really popular storyline, so it sounded like a promising story. When I got through it, though, it just seemed to be missing something.

Allegra finally has the chance to attend dance school, something she's been begging her musician parents to allow her to do for forever. But even though she's finally at a performing arts school, high school is high school and Allegra just can't seem to connect with the people her age. So when she's given a composing project with the young new teacher, Allegra finds herself getting lost in the world of composing music with him. Allegra, though, doesn't know if her growing feelings for her teacher are reciprocated, or if it's just the music that's creating the magic.

I liked the book enough when it started, but it seemed like Allegra's story never really picked up and went anywhere. I liked how Allegra's character was so passionate about dancing and how she had a hard time connecting with people her age. But when she decided to go into some sort of depression or lack of passion period of her life, I just got annoyed with her. And it happens more than once throughout the book. Then, the whole thing with her teacher wasn't even as central to the story as I thought it would be. Yeah, it was a huge part of the story, but the whole romance story wasn't really what i wanted it to turn out to be. Allegra just seemed like a silly girl with a crush. And it seemed like there were three possible relationships for her, which I wasn't too big of a fan of.

I thought it was cool how Allegra was putting her heart and soul into the song she was composing, but it was described as this amazing piece that every single person who listened to it could feel the emotion behind it and was absolutely floored by it. Could a song written by an 17-year-old really be that amazing? I don't know. But the way every single person in the book raved about the song was a bit too much for my taste. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice aspect to Allegra's character to have her challenge herself and compose an entire song, but I could have done without the exaggerated amazingness of it.

Overall, Allegra was just an okay book. I really wanted more than what I got, especially with the whole performing arts aspect. She barely described the dance parts and only focused on her out of this world composition. And the "romance" wasn't really all that I was expecting. This was still a quick, fun read, I just wanted more from the story when I was done with it. ( )
  Jessica5 | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Allegra thinks being at a performing-arts high school will change her life and make her a better dancer. But high school is still high school, complete with cliques, competition and cruelty. Allegra's refuge comes in the form of a class she doesn't want to take--music theory, taught by a very young, very attractive male teacher. Soon all Allegra can think about is music composition--and Mr. Rochelli. But has she misunderstood his attention, or is he really her soul mate?
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