Playing a Part by Daria Wilke

Challenge 33 ~ “A book that was originally written in a different language.”


★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

As someone who works backstage at the theatre, I was instantly drawn into Playing a Part, and Wilke did not disappoint in bringing the homely yet bizarre world of backstage to life. I am 100% open to books not originally written in English – authors don’t just stop having great ideas because they’re not written in English! – and so I had many a contender for this challenge. Having not yet read the others, I can’t say if I made the right choice – Playing a Part was both enjoyable and disappointing at the same time, with poor continuity and plot betraying the literate skill.

From the first page, Wilke captures the true magic of the theatre, and the crazy world that is backstage. She progresses through the novel with strong character development and addresses some important themes. However, there are several occasions with odd time-jumps, either mid-scene or mid-chapter, which makes the tale difficult to follow, and there is an inadequate introduction to many of the characters, which leaves them difficult to place and remember when they recur a few pages later. The ending, too, was rather abrupt, failing to conclude many of the loose ends and offering little resolution to what storyline there was.

Playing a Part is a character-driven, rather than plot-driven book, which doesn’t necessarily make it an obvious read for its young adult audience. Combining this with the sometimes-disjointed scenes, Wilke betrays the strong characterisation and other-wordly atmosphere of the book, to create a merely acceptable read. Enjoyable, yes, but not one than will win your heart or stick with you long after the final page.

Recommended for fans of:

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Ways To Live Forever by Sally Nicholls
  • Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff

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