The Kings Are Already Here by Garret Freymann-Weyr
Synopsis from publisher:
Phebe Knight has always wanted to be a ballerina. But now, one year away from joining the Company, her mind begins to wander. To clear her head, she decides to visit her father, who lives in Switzerland. There, she meets Nikolai Kotalev, a teenage chess champion, who is looking for the legendary Stas Vlajnik, the teacher who will show him how to be a grand master capable of both grace and speed. Phebe organizes a search across Europe to help Nikolai find the elusive Stas. And all the while, Phebe and Nikolai study each other's obsessions to find the lives they want. What are they each willing to pay for perfection and beauty?
Last month I read my first book by this author (read my review of After the Moment) and thought it was very good, so when I saw this slim volume in the library I grabbed it. I was curious to see if I would enjoy a second novel as much - I'm happy to say I did.
In fact, I think I enjoyed this one more. Phebe and Nikolai were uniquely interesting characters,
each struggling with an obsession that they were loath to part with. They were both so perfectly believable - as the author alternated between their voices, I was completely along for the ride. I love the way Freymann-Weyr creates characters that are intelligent and yet innocent. They never feel like people I've met before, and while they might be just a little bit too perfect to be real, they never feel fake.
I also enjoyed that this was not a story about love at first sight, as seems to be the norm in much YA literature these days. Throughout the novel Phebe and Nikolai come to care a great deal about each other, but falling in love is not really on either of their agendas. Phebe tells us early in the novel:
"Of course he means boys. They are the usual culprit. They are what cause girls with graceful necks and perfect turnouts to vanish. Back outside into life. It's always so sad. There was a boy about a year ago, but I found him...lacking. If I go outside into life, it won't be because of a boy."
I am becoming more and more a fan of this author. I know she has written several other books, and I am eager to read them. I thought this was a powerful and intelligent novel, and I would definitely recommend it.
Source: Forest Avenue Library