Cover image for Unscripted
Title:
Unscripted
ISBN:
9781419740848
Physical Description:
326 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live. She's thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she'll get to perform for professional scouts, including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she's hardworking and talented, Zelda's also the only girl on Varsity, so she's the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they're alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay?
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Summary

Summary

A funny and timely debut YA about the toxic masculinity at a famous improv comedy camp

Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho has her future all planned out: improv camp, then Second City, and finally Saturday Night Live . She's thrilled when she lands a spot on the coveted varsity team at a prestigious improv camp, which means she'll get to perform for professional scouts--including her hero, Nina Knightley. But even though she's hardworking and talented, Zelda's also the only girl on Varsity, so she's the target for humiliation from her teammates. And her 20-year-old coach, Ben, is cruel to her at practice and way too nice to her when they're alone. Zelda wants to fight back, but is sacrificing her best shot at her dream too heavy a price to pay? Equal parts funny and righteous, Unscripted is a moving debut novel that Printz Award winner Nina LaCour calls "a truly special book, written at exactly the right time."


Author Notes

Nicole Kronzer is a former professional actor and improvisor who now teaches English and creative writing. She loves to knit and run (usually not at the same time) and has named all the plants in her classroom. She lives with her family in Minneapolis. Visit her online at nicolekronzer.com.


Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Confident and talented, Zelda Bailey-Cho has her whole future planned out, and it starts at the Rocky Mountain Theatre Arts Camp, where she is offered a spot on the Varsity improv team, which has the chance to perform in front of industry professionals and elite camp alumni at the end of the summer. Not long after rehearsals start, however, Zelda starts to see the misogynistic atmosphere of camp. As the only female on Varsity, Zelda is often tasked with playing offensive stereotypical roles, such as a prostitute or "sexy secretary." The boys on her team constantly put her down and find it hard to believe that she was the author of the funniest sketch. Her coach, 20-year-old Ben, only adds to the problem, yelling at Zelda in rehearsal and calling out her mistakes in front of the team. Outside of rehearsal, Ben is overly nice to Zelda, and as he makes romantic advances, she grows more and more uncomfortable. Things spiral out of control, and it is not until after an unwanted physical encounter with Ben that Zelda steps forward and speaks out. Kronzer skillfully brings to life the improv setting. The characters are authentic and friendships seem real, as does Zelda's confusion over how to feel about Ben. VERDICT The humor of improvisation does not detract from the powerful messages of consent and gender equality, but rather adds some lighthearted moments to a serious plot. Recommended for libraries serving teens.--Katharine Gatcomb, Portsmouth Public Library, NH


Publisher's Weekly Review

Seventeen-year-old Zelda Bailey-Cho is ready to spend her summer at a prominent Colorado improv camp with her stepbrother, Will, and his boyfriend. Landing a spot on the camp's varsity team is the first step toward her goal of landing on SNL by age 25, but she quickly realizes the camp, while founded by a notable female comic, is rife with sexism and toxic masculinity. Out of 200 campers, only five--Zelda's bunkmates in counselor-less cabin Gilda Radner--are female; Zelda is the first to make varsity in 15 years. Ben, the 20-year-old varsity coach, shows an immediate interest in Zelda, which both flatters and unsettles her, but it seems harmless next to the constant sexism and sexual innuendo of her varsity teammates. As the general harassment intensifies, and Zelda becomes increasingly alarmed by Ben's erratic behavior and gaslighting, her growing bond with her cabinmates and with a few Boy Scout troop guides from the neighboring camp allows for moments of connection and romance. Kronzer excels at balancing humor with difficult subjects, portraying sexism and toxic masculinity in comedy with appropriate gravity while celebrating positive, healthy relationships and growth through active choices. Ages 14--up. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Apr.)


Kirkus Review

Zelda Bailey-Cho dreams of comedy fame, but are the obstacles worth the fight? Will the rules of improv help Zelda through a turbulent summer at the improv camp founded by her idol? Zelda is surprised to learn she's one of just five girls in a sea of 200 male campers. Luckily, the girls in Gilda Radner cabin quickly form an emotional support system. Talented and driven, Zelda earns a spot on the camp's elite improv team and falls for her tall, blond coach, Ben. At first excited and then confused and horrified, Zelda struggles to manage her cabin mates' high expectations, Ben's advances, and unchecked sexual harassment from her male teammates. She always knew that being female in the comedy world would be challenging, but how can she balance standing up for herself and being a trailblazer? Strong character development and exploration of timely topics make this novel shine despite its being somewhat weakened by unbelievable plot points and a tidy ending. Thoughtfully created diverse characters, who are specifically described and involved in both queer and straight relationships, model navigating social situations without assuming norms, whether relating to sexual identity labels or family structure. Most heartening of all, Zelda's second chance at love provides a healthy counterpoint to Ben's abusive behavior. Curly haired Zelda, who is white, is part of a blended Korean Scottish family. A realistic romance illuminating the difficulties of experiencing discrimination while reaching for a dream (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Seventeen-year-old Zelda is thrilled to be at improv camp along with her brother and his boyfriend. But excitement turns to dismay when her 20-year-old coach, Ben, both comes on to her and humiliates her--to the pleasure of most of her male teammates. This not only causes personal and aspirational crises, it makes Zelda doubt her own judgement and her ability to really gauge what is going on. On the plus side, Kronzer deftly combines what it means to be a female in comedy with a story of contemporary resonance that evokes the #MeToo movement. Less successfully drawn are some of the characters: Ben's attraction to Zelda never seems worth the bother, especially after things go south, which reduces him to a plot point. Likewise, Jesse, from a nearby scout camp, seems, well, too much like a Boy Scout and serves mostly as Ben's opposite. But Zelda's first-person narrative rings with authenticity as she weighs her options and finds her voice. Bonus: readers interested in improv will enjoy learning the fundamentals here.