Review: Raise the Curtain by Kirby Hall

Summary/Cover Image from Author's Website
Seventeen-year-old Alexa Cross is desperate to get to Broadway, but when she receives a failing math grade, hopes of a scholarship disappear. Now she’ll need her father’s help to achieve her dream. The only problem is he doesn’t consider her choice of careers to be sensible and after the pain her family has suffered, Alexa can’t go against his wishes. Trapped between a family she loves and her love of the stage, Alexa will have to find another way to achieve her dream or settle for what her father wants.

West Howell does his best to keep his head down and go unnoticed. It’s easier to be cut off than to try to explain to people why he’s so screwed up. After all, he can’t afford to get into any more trouble. When he’s recruited to tutor the hot, prissy girl from math, he never expects to fall in love with her. Or that she might be the one person who can relate to him.

Together, they may find a way to heal each other and get what they both desperately need, as long as Alexa’s father doesn’t decide that the one thing worse than his daughter’s love of the stage is her love for West.

I've really been in the mood lately for a good YA contemporary romance, and Raise the Curtain managed to fit the bill quite well. Containing likable main characters, a believable romance, and a lot of heart, Raise the Curtain is an absolute treat!

Raise the Curtain features the alternating POVs of Alexa Cross, good girl/aspiring Broadway actress, and West Howell, loner/bad boy. I found both characters to be relatable and easy to root for. Alexa is the perfectionist when it comes to her aspiring Broadway career. She'll stop at almost nothing to get the best results possible, and I admired that about her. It's always fun to see a MC be so passionate about something, and while I've never had the "acting bug," I still enjoy reading about life on the stage, especially when it involves a play I actually know (in this case - the Wizard of Oz). I also really enjoyed her relationship with her little brother Graham. Graham was such a cute kid, and he had such a keen sense of observation, especially when it came to attempting to prevent controversy between Alexa and their father. West, on the other hand, was the stereotypical bad buy with a secret heart of gold. When he's first introduced in Raise the Curtain, I could tell there was a lot more to him that meet the surface, and as the book progressed, more about him began to come out, such as his love for running, his loyalty to and love for his mom, and his intelligence. I especially liked how he always managed to bring everyone back to reality, be it Alexa,  Bekah, or Josh. While I liked both Alexa and West, I have to admit: I had a special soft spot for West in my heart. He was just a great guy.

The plot Raise the Curtain is the somewhat stereotypical one seen in contemporary YA: boy and girl experience some transforming event together, boy and girl are pushed together, boy and girl began to fall in love with some obstacles in the way. While I knew how this was going to end from the start, it didn't stop me from loving every minute of this book, especially given how much I liked the characters. The romance in this was well done, in my opinion. I was expecting an insta-love connection, but that didn't really happen. I felt that everything that occurred between West and Alexa was well paced and believable, making this book stand out to me. As mentioned above, I enjoyed the portions about acting as well as the portions about running and even the math (I'm a secret math nerd,  blame the chemistry degree I have). I also applaud Kirby for how she dealt with death in this. Both West and Alexa are still recovering from the loss of family members, and I thought Kirby dealt well with the topic as well as the character's feelings about it. I especially liked how West and Alexa were able to help each other through the remaining feelings of loss and despair they felt over it.

In all, Raise the Curtain is a sweet and charming YA debut, perfect for fans of Abbi Glines, Meg Cabot, Miranda Kenneally. I can't wait to see what Kirby Hall writes next!

Grade: B+

Raise the Curtain (Amazon, Goodreads) is now out! 

Source: eBook provided by Author's Pal

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