Perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Nina LaCour, this #ownvoices romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley has something for everyone: backstage rendezvous, deadly props, and a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to True Love.
Melody McIntyre, stage manager extraordinaire, has a plan for everything.
What she doesn’t have? Success with love. Every time she falls for someone during a school performance, both the romance and the show end in catastrophe. So, Mel swears off any entanglements until their upcoming production of Les Mis is over.
Of course, Mel didn’t count on Odile Rose, rising star in the acting world, auditioning for the spring performance. And she definitely didn’t expect Odile to be sweet and funny, and care as much about the play’s success as Mel.
Which means that Melody McIntyre’s only plan now is trying desperately not to fall in love.
Title: The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre
Author: Robin Talley
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Bisexual main character, multiple gay side and minor characters, bisexual love interest, Black side character
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of fire, mentions of small injuries, mentions of blood, mentions of homophobia, injury (broken leg), slut-shaming
It has now been 295 days since I last stepped foot in a theatre and let me tell ya, I am not taking it well. I desperately miss the theatre and my job as a stage manager which is why The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre was exactly the kind of book that I needed. When I first heard about The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, I immediately added it to my to be read list and had been eagerly awaiting the release date (and obsessively checking the status of my NetGalley request). Any book that involves theatre, especially focusing on technical theatre, will be a book that I must read.
This book truthfully just brought me so much joy. Since the lockdown started I’ve had this little (alright huge) theatre shaped hole in my heart and as I mentioned earlier, I just really miss that part of my job. I miss the rush of stepping into the theatre for the first time as tech week starts, I miss wearing my theatre blacks, I miss running around the theatre spiking set pieces, numbering the stage, and solving problems as they arise, and I miss putting on a headset and calling a show. This book brought some of those feelings back. It brought me a little bit of that joy that I have been missing.
Melody McIntyre is her high school’s resident stage manager. Things are going great for Melody until partway through their production of Romeo and Juliet when her girlfriend Rachel bursts into the booth during the show to break up with her. After their disastrous break up (which is heard by the whole crew over headset), the show falls apart, and the crew points out that whenever Melody is in a relationship something bad happens during the production.
As per tradition at their school, at the start of each show, the crew comes up with a “curse” and “counter curse” that the whole cast and crew must adhere to for the run of the show. The crew then decides to test their theory about Melody’s bad luck with relationships and ban her from starting a new relationship during the run of their latest production of Les Miserables. Melody is happy to agree – she wants the show to run as smoothly as possible and after the horrible ending to her relationship with Rachel, she’s looking forward to being alone for a bit. What she doesn’t expect is to fall for Odile Rose. When their growing friendship turns into a relationship, Melody insists that everything will be fine since she’s not in love with Odile, but when one bad thing after another begins to happen around the production, Melody isn’t so sure of anything anymore.
I really loved the entire idea for this book. Theatre is filled with superstitions and we theatre kids take our superstitions very seriously, so I thought that it was a great idea to center a book around the idea of a theatre curse. While some of it could be a bit over dramatic overdramatic and unrealistic (can we really ban someone from starting a relationship during a show?), I was thoroughly entertained the entire time I was reading. The crazy drama worked though because what else do you expect from a book about theatre?
While I see how Melody could be a character that would get on some people’s nerves, I have a soft spot in my heart for her. We both love a good spreadsheet, like to have the answer to everything, take pride in our organization skills, and ultimately really really love what we do. Though at times she could be judgemental, a bit self-centered, and bad at communicating with her friends, I think that those things made her a real and well-rounded character. I also thought that her friendship turned relationship with Odile was quite sweet and that they really brought out good things in each other.
There were so many lovely theatre details! I loved that the different sections were called “acts” and that there was an “intermission” – although for me, the intermission sections felt a bit odd because there was no longer any narration and was all dialogue. I loved all the references to other shows (one of my favorites being when they read off some of the show rules for their production of Little Shop of Horrors which included “Do not try to touch the puppet after dark. We really think it might try to eat you”. If you’ve ever worked on Little Shop then you know that’s a legitimate worry). I loved the addition of rehearsal schedules, rehearsal reports, and emails as those things are all a huge part of a stage manager’s day-to-day activities. The crew and actors referring to previous shows in conversation, quoting other plays and musicals, and those little details I mentioned really added theatricality and honesty to the story for me.
The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre kind of just felt like a big hug for all the theatre nerds out there, and I felt very at home while reading it. It is important to note that while Melody is bisexual I am not, so if you would like to read some ownvoice reviews I recommend checking out the following: ramblingmads, and fangirl since 1988.
Robin Talley (she/her) is a queer author who grew up in southwest Virginia and now lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife and their rambunctious kiddos. She did digital communications work for LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, educational equity, and other progressive causes for fifteen years before she turned to writing full-time, and is now the New York Times-bestselling author of seven novels for teen readers, including The Love Curse of Melody McIntyre, Music From Another World, Pulp, and As I Descended.
Her books have won accolades including the Amnesty CILIP Honour and the Concorde Book Award, have been short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award and the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and have appeared on the Junior Library Guild, Amelia Bloomer Project, Kids’ Indie Next, and ALA Rainbow lists. They’ve also been covered in media outlets including Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, Teen Vogue, NPR, Buzzfeed, Vulture, Huffington Post, Vice, and Bustle.
Her short stories have appeared in the young adult collections Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft, All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages, A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers and Other Badass Girls, and Feral Youth.