Sixteen-year-old Raphaelle says the wrong thing, antagonizes the wrong people and has the wrong attitude. She can't do anything right except draw, but she draws the wrong pictures. When her father moves the family to a small prairie city, Raphaelle wants to make a new start. Reborn as "Ella," she tries to fit in at her new school. She's drawn to Samir, a Muslim boy in her art class, and expresses her confused feelings in explicit art. When a classmate texts a photo of Ella's art to a younger friend, the fallout spreads throughout Ella's life, threatening to destroy her already-fragile family. Told entirely in verse, Audacious is a brave, funny and hard-hitting portrait of a girl who embodies the word audacity.
"This stunning, potent novel-in-verse delivers a riveting story and a character who is independent yet unsure, brave yet vulnerable, and so utterly true to herself. Readers will revel in every carefully chosen word and image. Prendergast has created a magnificent portrait of high school life, of first love, of a family in crisis. She raises challenging, intriguing questions about religion, women in society, art and self-expression. She takes on so many things in this book and yet the reader never feels overwhelmed, it never once feels like too much. The poetry format is used to brilliant effect, compelling readers to slow down and savour each exquisitely crafted poem, and to enter more deeply into Ella’s mind and heart."
"A smart, powerful story about a teenage girl trying to navigate right and wrong...Raphaelle, or Ella, has a very compelling voice. She's smart, sharp, witty, and bold...Verse novels have a certain something to them not often found in prose...The reader comes face to face with the speaker's life, with their reactions and emotions, with their struggles and hopes."
"In deft, layered verse, Prendergast chronicles her heroine’s desperate search for a positive identity. Young love, religion, politics, prejudice, and the meaning of art in society all factor into Raphaelle’s acceptance of herself and her family in all its complexities. Many readers will recognize both her tendencies toward self-sabotage and her growing belief in herself, and they will likely want continue this journey in the planned sequel, Capricious."
"In many ways, Raphaelle’s audacity is not just an act of self-insistence but an open declaration of war on convention...[Prendergast's] language is unsentimental, and the everyday details in the verses balance the heavily emotional content."
"The novel contains multiple, adeptly intertwined plotlines that touch upon an extensive range of issues...A wonderfully fast-paced novel that mature teens are sure to embrace."
"Smart, funny, clever and bold. Ella is a quirky, appealing character with a complicated back story and realistic, identifiable problems...Explores important, highly topical themes in an intelligent way."
"Prendergast has written a stunning young adult novel which shows the coming-of-age process of a strong and independent young woman who wants to express herself through her art... Audacious is written entirely in verse, but readers will hardly notice this fact after the first few pages. Somehow, the author manages to create fully formed characters, interesting dialogue and a series of events which tell a complete story while using a minimum of words. Prendergast says enough that readers have a clear sense of plot, setting and characters, and yet readers are able to fill in any blanks with their own imagination—a perfect combination!"
"[An] action-packed coming-of-age tale fraught with familial and societal dysfunction...Prendergast offers great insight into teen psychology—especially that of the outcast—and boldly probes sensitive topics like religious prejudice, sex, censorship and eating disorders. A provocatively modern test of understanding difference."
[Starred review] "Prendergast's sophomore YA novel is aptly named, both for the fierce spirit of its narrator, Ella, and the choice to tell her story entirely in verse...The verse bolsters character...[and] also allows Prendergast to take a jagged, piecemeal approach to telling Ella's story, a sort of diary structure that feels intimate and believable...The refusal to stick to one particular style, form, or rhyme scheme is an apt reflection of Ella's tumultuous teenage state...Prendergast asks concrete questions about faith, art, and politics that are sometimes avoided in YA...In Ella, Prendergast has created a voice that is definitely audacious—but also utterly real and memorable."
"Told in verse, Audacious is a very quick read, but its few words don’t hinder the messages ...It covers a lot of sensitive issues, but I do think the author handled them all respectfully and in an approachable way. Ella is definitely a character that I admired and I enjoyed watching her grow as a person and learn about herself and the world."
"I love this character. She's bold, strong, and refuses to conform...This is definitely a novel that offers a lot of food for thought on what makes art, censorship, self-expression and confidence, but most of all, it's about having the courage to be audacious."
"Raphaelle’s story will appeal to many teens, especially those who enjoy realistic fiction with an edge. The free-verse style is trendy and lends itself to books like this one, tackling mature and gritty subject matter...Teens who like novels in verse will be satisfied and reluctant readers looking for books with mature subject matter but less density will be pleased."
"The verses flow well and readers will connect with Raphaelle and her desire to reinvent herself. Fans of Ellen Hopkins are sure to like this book."
“Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Sonya Sones’s novels in verse will delight in Prendergast’s rich, riveting story, first in a planned duo...Prendergast demonstrates a powerful understanding of the adolescent search for identity, and her writing uses the verse format to great effect, with an honest teenage voice, a willingness to play with poetic form, and an intensity that arises through the condensed language.”
"The plot maintains interest and the characters are complex...Recommended for grades nine through twelve."