“You Can Say All You Want”: Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway


People who ask me what my favorite book is are often surprised. They assume that it would be one of the Harry Potter series since I cite J.K. Rowling as an inspiration so often. They would be wrong. It is this book.

I don’t even remember how old I was when I read Audrey, Wait! for the first time. I do remember finding it on one of the lower bookshelves in the teen section of the public library. I remember reading the back cover, full of glowing reviews, and then the inside jacket before deciding to check it out. And I devoured it. I checked it out from the library two more times before buying a copy. And then I loved that book so much that I gave my only copy of my favorite book to a friend for her birthday so that she could bask in the glow too. Then for birthday I got a new copy, with the original cover—the same as the one from the library.

So what is it about this book that makes me so fanatic? It could be because Audrey and her best friend, Victoria, remind me of what I was like (or wanted to be like) in high school. It could be because every chapter begins with a lyric from a different song, and when you put them together (as I did) you get a fantastic playlist. It could be because the question this book poses is a real one: “How does ‘the girl from that song’ really feel? And what is she really like?”

To answer that question—Audrey is your all-American teen. She works at a minimum wage job in the mall with a name so hilarious I dare not write it. She listens to music almost all the time, and treats musicians as both gods and friends. She hangs out with her friends, and gets along with her parents. She has a corpulent cat that sometimes gets stuck on the stairs. So what makes her different?

On the day that Audrey breaks up with her musician boyfriend Evan he writes a song. It’s a song about her. It’s a song that he plays at a concert that evening. And it’s a song that becomes a worldwide hit. Suddenly everyone thinks they know who Audrey is, and she’s thrust into the spotlight. And while that comes with some perks—hanging out backstage with a famous band—it also comes with a lot of problems—paparazzi, mean comments on message boards, and trouble figuring out if her new love interest is really into her or just in it for the fame.

The strongest aspect of this story is its voice. Told in first-person from Audrey’s perspective, it takes the reader through the narrative as if she is actually speaking to us, telling us her side of the story, and sharing her secrets to the world. Her voice is always overflowing with humor, but the soft and heartbreaking scenes still make an impact. It reads like a teenager, and not like an ‘adult-trying-to-be-a-teen’ that you sometimes come across in young adult fiction, especially if it’s contemporary.

I try to reread this book at least once a year. It always makes me laugh and picks me up when I’m down. By now I feel that Audrey and I have been friends for a long time, but after just one read you’ll feel that way too. This is a book that I recommend to everyone, because at its heart it’s a timeless story with relatable issues in a crazy scenario. While not everyone will like stories about magical schools or towns run by vampires, this has something for everyone, and its humor is universal.

If you haven’t read Audrey, Wait! then you should. It’s as simple as that, because—like a great song—it never gets old and you’ll want to read it again and again.