A WHOLE SONG AND DANCE Blog Tour Assets
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the A WHOLE SONG AND DANCE by Sarvenaz Tash Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!
About The Book:
Title: A WHOLE SONG AND DANCE
Author: Sarvenaz Tash
Pub. Date: April 4, 2023
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Find it: Goodreads, https://books2read.com/A-WHOLE-SONG-AND-DANCE
Sarah Dessen meets Abigail Hing Wen in this heartwarming romantic comedy starring Nasrin Mahdavi, an Iranian-American college freshman who’s a triple threat on Broadway—but who’s living a double life.
It’s her first semester majoring in musical theater at NYU’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, and Nasrin spends her days prepping for auditions, sweating through dance classes, and belting her heart out for the viral streaming show she’s been cast in. But on calls with her maman and baba, she’s the golden child who put her theater dreams aside to follow in their entrepreneurial footsteps as a business major.
At least her whole life isn’t a lie—she is taking a single business course. Except she’s kind of failing it. Nasrin needs to bring her grade up fastif she’s going to keep her parents in the dark, so she grudgingly signs up for tutoring with the infuriatingly smug and annoyingly attractive Max. And yet . . . as the semester rushes by, the sparks of anger that first flew between them start to turn into a very different kind of spark. The kind she definitely does not have time for.
Except when Nasrin’s charmingly devious cousin takes an interest in Max too, Nasrin has to figure out exactly what has been an act, and what’s for real. Can Nasrin decide what—and who—is truly worth fighting for, and find a way to step into the spotlight as her full self?
About Sarvenaz Tash:
Sarvenaz Tash is the author of The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love (an Amazon Best Book of the Year, YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant YA Readers), A Whole Song and Dance, Virtually Yours, Three Day Summer, The Mapmaker and the Ghost and the co-author of Ghosting: A Love Story and Hollywood Ending (as Tash Skilton). She was born in Tehran, Iran and grew up on Long Island, NY. She received her BFA in Film and Television from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, which means she got to spend most of college running around and making movies (it was a lot of fun). She has dabbled in all sorts of writing including screenwriting, copywriting, and professional tweeting for the likes of Bravo and MTV. Sarvenaz currently lives in Brooklyn with her family.
Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub
1 winner will receive a finished copy of A WHOLE SONG AND DANCE, US Only.
Ends May 6th, midnight EST.
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How to Succeed
I’m idling in my car even though I pulled into my driveway at least ten minutes ago, nervously tapping my hands on the steering wheel in time to the How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying cast recording. My stomach is flipping like a full-blown Newsies routine, and my perfectly ordinary front door has never looked so intimidating.
To give myself an extra shot of courage, I pick up my phone and read the impossible email just one more time.
Congratulations! You have been accepted to the
Drama BFA program at NYU Tisch School of the
Arts. Welcome to New Studio on Broadway.
I close my eyes and focus on the visualization technique I use to calm my nerves every time I’m about to step onto a stage.
First, square breathing: in for two, hold for two, out for two, hold for two. Repeat four times.
Next, my three words of intention: how I want my audience—in this case, my parents—to feel once I’ve performed. The words are technically supposed to be verbs. So, okay, I want to charm, excite, and . . .uh, prouden? Is that a word?
Lastly, and arguably the easiest part for me: remind myself to speak calmly, slowly, and with passion. I also need to remember the most important truth bomb in my arsenal: that the NYU musical theater department only has a 15 percent acceptance rate. If there’s one thing my parents can get behind, it’s percentages.
This is it. I’m going to use all my performance acumen and all my courage and come clean: Maman and Baba, I applied to Tisch, the art school, not Stern, the business school. I got in! And I’m going to study theater and spend the rest of my life performing.
I’m going to tell them. Today, I think, just as my stomach does another Tony-worthy backflip and the arched glass in my front door seems to frown even wider. Or maybe . . . sometime this weekend. Because I think there’s an Iranian soccer match on tomorrow and then they’ll be feeling particularly relaxed.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that my parents aren’t supportive. Maman and Baba paid for and drove me to every voice lesson or dance class, attended every single one of my performances whether I was playing a background tulip or had the lead role, and cheered harder than anyone when I took my bows, from age four until now. They love that I love to perform . . .They also really, really want me to go to business school.
I listen to Daniel Radcliffe belt out some more tips about how to walk into a conference room, soaking in my ironic choice of pump-up music, before I finally turn off the car. It’ll be okay; I have a whole weekend to tell them.
But when I step into the door, Maman and Baba are both lying in wait in the foyer. Their eyes are wild and bright, and when they land on me, my parents let out a joyous exclamation, as if they’ve been waiting for me all day. I glance back at my treacherous front door uneasily, wondering if they’ve been staring out at me sitting in my car.
“Nasrin, I’m sorry,” Maman says, and that’s when I notice that she’s clutching my iPad. “I promise I wasn’t prying. It’s just, the alert popped up on here this morning and I’ve been waiting all day to have you read it. . . .” She hands the tablet over to me.
“It’s from NYU!” Baba butts in. “We just saw it was from NYU.”
So much for that soccer match.
“Did you get in? Are you going to be a Sternie?” I look at my dad’s smiling face, how his dark mustache is bobbing up and down with anticipation. Then I turn to Maman, her brown eyes blinking madly behind her funky purple-and pink glasses.
Maybe this would’ve been easier if I’d just let them overhear my Zoom audition. But I specifically asked my theater director to let me borrow the school auditorium for it. Probably because a large part of me never expected it would lead to this moment. I mean, come on. Fifteen percent.
I take a final deep breath and finish it off with my good luck ritual—two taps on the silver necklace that’s hanging from my neck, the pendant a tiny rendering of stage curtains. Maman and Baba got it for me years ago, just a few months before that disastrous Chorus Line audition that almost made them make me quit. . . .
But no, no. That is not what I need to be visualizing right now.
I put all the force of my vocal training behind my voice as I say, “I got into NYU—”
But before I get to finish my sentence, both my parents are hugging me and whooping loudly. I’m pretty sure that’s one of my mother’s tears I feel on my hair.
“We’re so proud!” Maman says.
“So proud, jigar talah!” Baba reiterates. “This makes everything worth it. All the sacrifices . . .”
Maman waves at him. “Let’s not get into that now, Nader. This is Nasrin’s moment! She did it!”
They both embrace me from either side again, a tight-knit Mahdavi circle that feels as warm as the sun.
They’re so happy.
And I’m so happy.
And we’re elated over the same thing, really. The same university. Just . . . a slightly different school within it. Okay, this is good. This is how I’ll ease into the truth. “So, Maman. Baba . . .”
“We have to celebrate properly!” Baba says, and jumps away from the embrace, the slight chill in his wake scattering my train of thought like stage snow. “I’m making reservations!” He grabs for his phone.
I don’t have to ask where. He knows my favorite restaurant. He sorta knows everyone’s favorite restaurant, given that my parents are the proud creators of RatethePlate.com, currently the number two restaurant-rating site in the country.
“I’m opening up some champagne. Just a little for the special occasion,” Maman says, winking at me.
I smile at her, swallowing down my confession for the time being. Because a little alcohol will make it go down easier too, right? I mean, I’ve never really drank, but I’ve seen enough act 2s opening on party scenes to get the idea.
“I’m buying us matching sweatshirts!” I look over in alarm to see that Baba has somehow managed to already navigate over to the Stern merchandising page.
I give a small laugh. “Well, maybe let’s hold off on that for one . . .”
I physically jump, for one bizarre instant thinking that a cymbal has been hit, signaling the first note of my opening number. Traditionally, it would be something called an
“I Want” song, the main character establishing to the audience what their goal is going to be for the next two hours and change. Think “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” or “Part of Your World.”
So I want . . .
. . .to get into Tisch. The program whose audition I agonized over for months. The program I applied to just to see if I had what it took to make it. I told myself that if I got in, it’d be a sign that theater is what I’m meant to be doing. And I did. I got in. Fifteen percent.
Right, that’s it. Remember the percentages, Nasrin. Remember the percentages!
My mom stuffs a skinny glass into my hand, a small pool of pale liquid fizzing at its bottom.
“To our great mind!” she says.
“To our great mind!” Baba echoes, raising his glass and clinking it with mine.
My eyes involuntarily flick over to the wall of my parents’ office, where the giant sampler that hangs there is visible even from the foyer. It reads:
Great minds have purpose, others have wishes. —Washington Irving
Ironically, I’m the one who stitched the words of my dad’s favorite quote onto an enormous piece of fabric a few years ago, when I learned how to sew so I could have a better grasp on how to alter my own costumes. The sampler was a Father’s Day present, replacing the small, framed quote that had been there for as long as I’ve known how to read.
Everything my parents have ever done seems filled with purpose. For one thing, they left behind their entire country in pursuit of opportunity. And when they combined Maman’s coding skills and Baba’s penchant for sales, they somehow arrived at a magic formula for success. It seemed like one day they were updating their WordPress from the little alcove in their bedroom, and the next, they had a feature in Wired. But I know it was “overnight success” by way of ten years of toiling in obscurity.
And that’s all they’ve ever wanted for me too. Maybe not the abject struggling part, as they’ve made quite clear, but the part where I work hard and eventually get rewarded for it. The first and last time I ever saw Baba with tears in his eyes, through fresh ones streaming from my own, was the month after the Chorus Line audition, when he told me in no uncertain terms that theater is meant to be a fun hobby and not a source of devastation. But this acceptance email makes me feel like my wishes have purpose too; one of the premier drama schools in the country thinks I have what it takes to turn them into something concrete—into a career. What could be more purposeful than that?
I smile and follow Maman and Baba’s lead by taking a small sip from my glass. The liquid is cool and light, and nowhere near as bitter as I was expecting. I read it as a sign that my confession will be the same. My parents might be surprised by its novelty, but they’ll get used to it, accept it, and, maybe even eventually, enjoy it.
I put down my glass. “Maman, Baba. First of all, I want to thank you. It’s because of you that I was ever able to do this.” I get a little choked up because it’s so accurate. All those les sons, all that driving me to community theater auditions and rehearsals over the summers . . .
“Oh, don’t be silly, azizam,” Maman says. “What are we doing in this country at all if not helping you to accomplish your goals? You did all the hard work. . . .”
“Nasrin, look,” Baba says, bouncing on the balls of his feet. He thrusts his iPad into my face, and I can see that, fortunately, he’s navigated away from the merchandise . . .though, unfortunately, it might be to an even more disconcerting page. “There are so many clubs you can join!”
The Stern clubs page is filled with words like “economics” and “finance” and “investment analysis” that stream through my eyes and get jammed up before they can absorb into my brain. But then there’s one that actually makes its way through my synapses: a Stern & Tisch Entertainment Business Association. Okay, maybe this is the opening I need. I point to it. “This one looks interesting. . . .”
Baba looks down, and his eyebrows knit together as he reads what I’m pointing at. “That one? Well . . . we wouldn’t want you to get tempted, Nasrin.”
“Tempted?” I ask, my shoulders slowly creeping up. “You might see all those Tischies and decide to become a drama major! Remember when you started high school and that’s what you wanted to do? Your mom and I were so worried.” They look over my head at one another. The sense of relief flowing through them is palpable, like they dodged a literal bullet—naturally, from a gun that appeared in act 1 and, in a Chekhovian progression, went off by the end of the play.
They clink their glasses again, and it’s like a lighting cue has darkened the liquid inside to an ominous amber. Suddenly my stomach feels like it’s sloshing around giant bubbles, bouncing together, creating friction and waves upon waves of anxiety. My dad just voiced everything I was afraid of.
But I fall back on my training once again. My voice is entirely calm and relaxed when I say, “But there was never anything to worry about, was there?”