Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Taming by Eric Walters and Teresa Toten

Published: January 24th, 2012
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 256
Copy: Courtesy of Netgalley and publisher
Summary: Goodreads

Katie likes to believe she's invisible. It seems much safer than being exposed as she is--shy, poor, awkward. So getting up on stage in the school production of The Taming of the Shrew should be complete torture. But as Katie tells it, something totally unexpected happened when she stepped on stage: "My head exploded. I loved it. Acting hit me like a sucker punch and I loved, loved, loved it! . . . Invisible Katie became visible Katharina."

Evan Cooper is, as they say, another story. He knows just what it takes to get noticed, and he uses every one of the skills he's honed after years of being the new kid. Like tossing the keys to his father's high-end Audi to a kid he's never met, first day of school. "I have insurance for car theft," he explains to a shocked Danny. "And there's a full tank." An abuse of the power that comes with privilege and money? Sure.

But more dangerously, is his romance with Katie another version of the same thing? Or is it the real thing?

I started reading The Taming with absolutely no preconceived notions about it's contents.  I knew it was based around 'that Shakespeare guy's' play The Taming of the Shrew, but other than that I had no idea and  I was absolutely blown away by it!   Walters and Toten have taken a very important social issue (violence and abusive behavior) and have woven it ito an engrossing, wonderful and very moving tale of self discovery.

Told in alternating PoV's it is easy to get right into the heads of the main characters, Evan and Katie.  Katie is a mouse - quiet, shy, scared and invisible.  She does everything she can to fly under the radar.  Evan is her complete opposite in every way - handsome, rich, charismatic, confident, and completely toxic!  When Evan sets his sights on Katie, sparks fly.

To avoid spoilers I won't go into details, but the development of these two characters is superb.  We get into their heads and see the reasons behind their actions.  So much so that it's difficult not to feel sorry for Evan.  While it becomes obvious that he is a product of his envirnment, just as Katie is, there is no excuse for his behaviour, or hers for that matter.  I became very involved in what was going on and there is such a sense of empowerment at the end that I felt like cheering.  Excellent secondary characters, like Travis, Lisa and Josh, round out the story and make it complete.

The Taming is an amazing book that makes its point clearly, without being preachy, and even manages to inject a few snippets from everyone's favourite bard, and from one of his less popular plays no less.

I would highly recommend The Taming for anyone who likes contemporary fiction - and even for those that don't!  Canadians, remember this one for ISU time, but read it anyway, just for the experience, you won't regret it.  I don't know if it's available as a hard copy in the US right now, but I did notice it as an ebook from Amazon, so fire up your ereaders.


  1. I love that your blog has so much Canadian content. You inspire me.

    1. Well thank you Dana. We do try to find as much Canadian content as we can, but sometimes it's more difficult than others. Right now we're having a good selection.

  2. I wouldn't have related Taming of the Shrew when I first saw the cover. Sounds like an interesting use of an old story.

    1. It definitely put a new spin on an old tale, and in a way I wasn't expecting.