Review: Audition & Subtraction by Amy Fellner Dominy

Title: Audition & Subtraction

Author: Amy Fellner Dominy

Publisher: Walker & Company

Release Date: September 4th, 2012

Interest: Author / Contemporary

Source: ARC received as a gift from a friend

Summary (From Goodreads):

For as long as Tatum can remember it’s been:

Tatum + Lori = Best friends

They do everything together, including a yearly clarinet/flute duet for District Honor Band auditions. But when a new boy transfers to their middle school and their band, the equation suddenly changes to:

Lori + Michael – Tatum = One happy couple

With her best friend slipping away and her parents recently separated, Tatum’s life has turned upside down. Plus her good friend Aaron thinks that they are secretly boyfriend and girlfriend, all because of one little lie Tatum told. Accepting change isn’t easy for Tatum, but just how much is she willing to give up to hold on to her friendship with Lori and life as she knows it? For Tatum, the best way to move forward may require a whole new formula . . .

Audition & Subtraction is positively adorable.  Plain and simple.  I read and adored Amy Fellner Dominy’s debut, OyMG, so I knew I wanted to read her sophomore release.  As expected, I loved it!

Audition & Subtraction will probably be categorized by most as middle grade since Tatum is in 8th grade, but I think high school students will enjoy it as well.  It is a perfect middle grade novel though.  The romance is light and sweet, and the conflicts Tatum faces are accurate for middle school and high school as well.  I really like how divorce is handled in the story.  It doesn’t overshadow the main conflict, but it does add an extra element of stress to Tatum’s life which affects her thoughts and actions.  I’ve also noticed that a number of YA novels feature absent parents or parents who are the main cause of conflict in the story.  That’s an understandable focus for YA, but it’s a breath of fresh air to read a story where the parents are really supportive.  I especially love Tatum’s mom; she’s struggling to be on her own, but she’s there for Tatum with support and great advice.

Has anyone noticed that whenever school bands are the focus, the kids are always band geeks?  I really like that Amy Fellner Dominy wrote this story without making the kids geeky.  I wasn’t in band after middle school, so I’m not overly biased about the band geek label, but it is nice to see someone stray from that stereotype.  Tatum and her friends are bright and talented.  They make some mistakes, as we all do, but they’re characters that teens and pre-teens can look up to.

I related to Tatum and how conflicted she was about what was happening to her friendship with Lori.  I remember feeling similar to Tatum when I was her age and one of my friends got a boyfriend.  It’s awkward when that happens because it’s so unfamiliar and middle school is awkward enough as it is.  Tatum’s circumstance is worse since Lori falls for Michael, Tatum’s big competition.  The strain on their friendship plays into a big conflict; Tatum needs to learn to stand on her own and not rely on others so much, especially Lori.  Dominy did a fantastic job tying these two pieces together.  The conflicts work together seamlessly, it never felt choppy or forced.  I hear about these types of fights (new boyfriends getting in the way) all the time in my classroom which is one of the reasons I think high school students will enjoy Audition & Subtraction.

Amy Fellner Dominy is a talented writer who has written a thoroughly enjoyable new novel.  I love the characters, the writing, the conflict, everything.  If you work with pre-teens or teens, make sure you get a copy of Audition & Subtraction when it releases September 4th!


  1. I agree with this review 100% — this was an honest, fun, and often poignant read that so many tweens and teens will relate to (in fact, I think I lived this story in 9th grade 🙂 I wish Amy all the success in the world and can’t wait to see what she comes out with next!

  2. This does sound like a fun MG book.

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