Take Me There

If you take a chance, you just might find true love.

Rhiannon is completely devastated after the breakup with her boyfriend. She wants him back. Nicole's ex still wants to be with her, but she's obsessed with someone totally forbidden. James is hopelessly in love with Rhiannon, who doesn't see that their friendship can be so much more. Will their desire to take a mean girl down a notch bring these three friends what they want...and more?

Set during one life-altering week and told in three realistic perspectives, this engaging, witty novel shows the ups and downs of love, friendship, and karma.

 

Take Me There, by Susane Colasanti

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Blurbs

Colasanti ably captures the teenage voice through language that is real and not forced. Her easy writing style will speak to teen readers.

Each character's voice is strong, and the dialogue is stolen right from the corridors of a contemporary high school.

Reviews
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Rhiannon has just been dumped by her boyfriend and desperately wants him back. Nicole is struggling with her past, crushing on her math teacher, and trying to remember why she broke up with her boyfriend, Danny. James and Rhiannon are only good friends—or are they?

At first glance, this book looks like any other teen relationship novel, but the story goes beyond and the characters slightly past the surface into a week full of both routine and transformation in the lives of three teenagers, their families, and friends. This story of romance and friendship, new love and old wounds is told in three distinct voices, gracefully woven together. Colasanti ably captures the teenage voice through language that is real and not forced. Her easy writing style will speak to teen readers. This book is a quick read but not empty fluff. Although predictable, the different threads are nonetheless satisfying, with a mix of self-discovery, self-deprecation, humor, and teenage angst. Teens will relate to the circumstances and connect with the realistic, sympathetic characters. Parents and teachers mostly remain in the shadows, but their presence—or absence—is felt in the lives of the characters. Likewise other secondary characters and story lines are less developed, but they still add to the overall picture. Some name dropping and popular culture references may limit the shelf life, but readers who enjoyed Colasanti's When It Happens (Viking, 2006/VOYA June 2006) will not be disappointed. 4Q 4P (Better than most; broad general YA appeal)

In this novel about the drama and trauma of teen relationships, Rhiannon loves order, math, and Steve, but Steve dumped her for the manipulative, skanky Gloria. James loves serenity, designing software, and his friendship with Rhiannon. But his home is chaotic, and Rhiannon doesn't know how much he cares for her. Nicole loves her math teacher, her friendship with Rhiannon, and her ex-boyfriend Danny. But Nicole has a secret that threatens all of her relationships.

Over the course of a week, Colasanti's story, told in alternating chapters, describes how the three teens cope with the same events, each other, and their own issues. Each character's voice is strong, and the dialogue is stolen right from the corridors of a contemporary high school. Readers, especially girls, will appreciate the very satisfying resolutions of all three characters' issues: Rhiannon gets revenge and recognizes the depth of her friendship with James; James receives a surprising gift; and Nicole acknowledges the consequences of her father's abuse and her conflicted feelings for Danny.

This tale has likable and realistic teen characters. It takes place over an event-filled week, with Rhiannon, Nicole, and James telling the same story from their individual perspectives. Rhiannon is devastated by her recent breakup with Steve. Nicole has broken up with Danny for no apparent reason, and he is determined to win her back. James, who has always been Rhiannon's best friend, is finding his feelings for her undergoing a dramatic change. Many humorous events occur, including Rhiannon's surefire plan to get Steve back that backfires. Readers will be intrigued by how the same incidents can be seen in so many different lights. They may also gain perspective on how one action can have very different consequences for people. The story also addresses several difficult and all-too-common problems that many teens face. Nicole realizes that Sheila is being physically abused by her boyfriend and is able to get her some professional help. Nicole has her own dark secret—her father is sexually abusing her. It's through her interactions with her friends that she is finally able to acknowledge the abuse and start to get on with her life. Teens who are dealing with their own problems will benefit from the hopeful resolution of this story. While this book's main appeal will be with girls, guys will enjoy hearing the male perspective.

Rhiannon has just been dumped without a reason. She's miserable beyond belief.  Nicole has just dumped her boyfriend with a reason. She's confused beyond belief. And James...James would do nearly anything to get Rhiannon to stop mooning over her ex and finally notice him as more than her buddy. Over the course of a week, many things will happen to these three friends. There will be confessed secrets, messages on sidewalks, delivered flowers, a ton of photocopied notes, one awesome speech, and lots and lots of karma. But in the end, will they discover what they truly want?

This realistically honest book told in three different points of view will blow you away. Colasanti has such a real talent for capturing the personality of teenagers, it's like she is one herself. Her plot is unique and her delivery attention grabbing. Insightful, humorous, moving and never dull, Colasanti's characters will feel like they're your best friends by the time you have finished this delightful novel.

Rhiannon has just been dumped by her boyfriend for no apparent reason. She is beyond devastated. She just doesn't understand why Steve would just break up with her. The worst part is she wants Steve back, but it seems he doesn't feel the same way about Rhiannon.  Nicole is her own kind of person. No one's like her, but they all admire her. She has just dumped her boyfriend and only she knows why. Danny was the sweetest boy that Nicole had ever met, but then things started getting too serious for her and she just had to end it. Quickly moving on she soon has a new crush.  James is a computer geek who's Rhiannon's best friend....but he so wishes it were more. His best friend just happens to be the same Danny that Nicole just dumped, and he knows that Danny still wants Nicole back.

Set during one hectic week of these three friends’ lives, Take Me There is the ultimate teen novel. What starts as a horrible week ends up turning into one heck of a roller coaster ride. Told from all three people's perspective we learn all of the dastardly deeds and heartbreaking moments each character experiences.

This was one of the cutest books I've ever read. Each part of the story was told three times, but by a different character which made the book really interesting. It also allowed the reader to learn secrets about the other characters and made previous events that had happened make sense. This was the first time I've ever read a book told like this, and I loved it. I also really enjoyed how all the characters seemed so real. Nicole is the best friend who will always help you up when you're down, but will never accept your help, and Rhiannon is the smart, organized, super nice girl in all of your classes. As for James, I totally have a crush on him. He seems like the sweetest guy who any girl would die to have. There is nothing that I didn't like about this book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good, heartwarming read. I definitely look forward to reading more of Susane Colasanti's novels.

When I first started reading Take Me There by Susane Colasanti, I thought maybe I’d stepped into the middle of something. Like maybe I was reading a sequel. So I stopped and went back to her first book, When It Happens. Which, it turned out, had nothing to do with her new book, but was a delight to read anyway.

After I finished When It Happens, I immediately returned to Take Me There, this time realizing that Susane was bringing us into the middle of a story on purpose. This is something you should know, so that you aren’t confused when you pick up the book yourself. Because you are so going to.

Susane’s novel about a group of kids at a Manhattan high school is told from three different perspectives: there’s Rhiannon, who has just been dumped by a guy she thought loved her; James, Rhiannon’s best friend since forever; and Nicole, newer to the crowd but essential just the same.

Each of the three voices is distinct, but they don’t clash. They work together. And in each section, we find out something new about a situation we’ve already read about from another perspective. It’s a creative format, and Susane does a great job making sure it all meshes.

As for the storyline…well, I don’t want to tell you too much. Just that it starts with Rhiannon in tears over a guy. Sounds typical, but what happens as the book progresses isn’t typical. There’s so much more to the story, there are so many more stories to the story, and it’s just plain good reading.

If, after you finish Take Me There, you are still in need of a Susane Colasanti fix, I highly recommend When It Happens. Now, get thee to a bookstore already! Sheesh.

Take Me There brings to light all those tiny miscommunications that add up after awhile, and it's only after looking at the story from three perspectives that clarity shines through. Susane's characters interpret their situations both better and worse than they actually are, and it's intriguing (not to mention amusing!) to see how small assumptions lead each person to jump to big conclusions!

The character development in Take Me There is completely relatable, yet original. While the female nemesis, Gloria, is just as unlikable by the end of the novel, Susane demonstrates that Gloria too has feelings that might invoke sympathy—she's not untouchable. Plus, readers are treated to all the quirky, kind gestures that Steve, Rhiannon's ex-boyfriend, performed when they were still dating. While he does the unthinkable to Rhiannon, it's clear that he's a desirable guy in some ways, so it's easy to understand her conflict and heartbreak.

Danny is another fantastic, well-rounded character. Susane's description of him is not at all cliché, and yet his personality is recognizable in a general sense. I think we've all known folks like this: "Danny has that effect on girls. He mesmerizes them with his opinions and theories and ideas. But it's not just about how smart he is or how hot he looks when he's all wound up about some issue. It's like he's a natural leader. He's got this irresistible quality." It's typical to portray a charismatic character as manipulative, but Susane flips it in the opposite direction, and demonstrates how Danny uses his charisma in a positive way.

Take Me There is full of movie scenes! Clearly Susane is not only a writer, but she also has a visual and audio grasp on the storyline, making up music playlists that correspond with her novels and writing scenes that would work well on the big screen. My three favorite potential movie scenes are:

1. The rain pouring down on Rhiannon's chalk message as she walks out of school.

2. The iPod dancing scene (obviously!), when Rhiannon and James kiss, and then the light show and music begin at exactly the right moment.

3. The colorful, inspirational words projected onto the walls, floor, and ceiling during Danny's speech.

Another unique aspect of the novel is the epilogue, in which conventional text is discarded in favor of a screenplay, a journal entry, a note, and a letter. It was especially brilliant to save Gloria's note until the storyline had completed, and then finally unveil the evidence at the end.

One thing I love about Susane's books is that her narrators are always expressing really frank, compelling ideas about life, but in a natural way that doesn't disrupt the plot. For example, James says, "It's amazing how you can be surrounded by so many people every day who care about you and still feel alone." People may worry that they sound like spoiled ingrates for saying something like this, but it's all too true. So much of what people long for are things like connection and community, the intangible, and the sense of being loved and understood. Susane finds a way of expressing what so many feel inside, and then she puts it out there for the world to see. It's brave and magnificent, and when I read her novels, I feel better about life. I have no doubt her books will have the same effect on many readers.

Bravo!

Videos

The Take Me There book trailer captures the essence of the West Village, where most of the story takes place.

Girls in the Stacks caught up with me at the Austin Teen Book Festival for a Take Me There convo.

Playlist

The Take Me There playlist is ready for some serious iPod dancing. Enjoy on Spotify.


1. "Home To Me" - Josh Kelley
Some people just feel like home. 

2. "Rhiannon" - Fleetwood Mac
The inspiration for Rhiannon's name.

3. "Dreaming With a Broken Heart" - John Mayer
After Steve breaks up with Rhiannon out of nowhere, her heart hurts so much that it's painful to be awake. Sleeping is how she dulls the pain. She keeps hoping that things will go back to normal when she wakes up, but of course she keeps waking up to the same nightmare.

4. "More Than a Feeling" - Boston
This song makes me smile. Hearing it takes me right back to how it all felt when everything was happening for the first time.

5. "Umbrella" - Rihanna
For the scene where Danny walks Nicole home in the rain under his big umbrella.

6. "My Immortal" - Evanescence
There's just too much that time cannot erase.

7. "Look What You've Done" - Jet
When some serious iPod dancing goes down, this is what's playing.

8. "Dare" - Gorillaz
When this song comes on at the dance, everyone floods the dance floor. It's that good.

9. "Leave" - R.E.M.
Captures the longing to leave everything and everyone behind.

10. "By Your Side" - Sade
I first heard this song on my fave ep of Sex and the City, The Good Fight. It was an emotional episode for me. Some scenes were filmed on a Tribeca rooftop in July 2001. The episode aired after September 11, so the producers decided it would be kinder to remove the Twin Towers from the skyline. Every time I watch that episode, I still see them. This song is about a promise to always be there.

11. "Fly Away" - Lenny Kravitz
Sounds like sweet summer nights and good times with friends.

12. "Can't Find My Way Home" - Blind Faith
Take Me There was originally called My Way Home, a title that was inspired by this song.

Take Me There Tour

Take a photo tour of some places and things that inspired the setting of Take Me There. See the pier where Rhiannon and James like to chill, their favorite cupcakes, where everyone lives and more!

Take Me There Tour
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People often ask me if I ever include actual places and events in my books. I totally do! Incorporating parts of my real life makes my books feel more real, and I am all about realistic fiction. Maybe that's why I love visiting locations from my favorite books and movies. When I got to visit the Panthers football field from Friday Night Lights while I was visiting Austin, I could not have been more excited. You could feel the FNLvibe right there on the field. There's just something so magical about visiting actual places from stories that speak to me.

For those of you who love behind-the-scenes treats as much as I do, I thought you might want to see some places and things that inspired some scenes in Take Me There. Most of the book takes place in my New York City neighborhood. I really wanted to share the energy of the West Village with my readers, try to find a way to make them feel what I feel by just being here. Hopefully, documentation of these actual locations will help that energy resonate. So here are some photos I took around the city to share with you. Enjoy!

Let's start with a tour of where everyone lives.

susane colasanti

Rhiannon lives in one of the most gorgeous homes around. That is not a coincidence. One thing that's fun about writing is being able to live vicariously through my characters. I'm seriously jealous of Rhiannon's house. Her family owns the whole entire house. That is extremely rare here in downtown Manhattan. She lives on West 11th Street, which is such a pretty street I can't even tell you.

Space is really limited here. Most people don't have things like yards and gardens. If you are very lucky, you might have a rooftop garden. Neighbors who are awesome plant flowers in window boxes or in tiny fenced-in areas out front.

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James lives near Rhiannon at 25 Charles Street. But he doesn't live in a whole house like she does. That's because in order to live in Rhiannon's house, you need like a trillion dollars. James lives in a cramped apartment with his parents and little brother. He has really noisy neighbors. Unfortunately, really noisy neighbors are standard around here.

When I was writing Take Me There, I wanted the neighborhood setting to match the actual setting of the West Village to give the story an authentic feel. Both Rhiannon and James live close enough to Hudson River Park that it doesn't take long for them to walk there. Magnolia Bakery is on the way to the park, where they like to stand in the long cupcake line and anticipate which cupcakes they're going to get. However, I did add a few locations to the setting that don't actually exist here in the nabe. James does laundry at Wash World. Wash World was where I had to do my laundry when I lived in Astoria, Queens for four years while I was paying off student loans and saving up enough to move here. The West Village is an expensive neighborhood, but I love the energy so freaking much. It's my favorite place in the world. So I lived in Astoria and saved up and did my laundry at Wash World. Which was a total drag.

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Nicole lives on the Upper West Side near Central Park. This is her building at 15A West 73rd Street. I selected it for several reasons. First off, it is badass to live right next to Central Park. Two, the address is really unique. It's not 15, it's 15A. And I love the curved side of this building. I decided that Nicole lives in Apartment 1, right in the curved part with the window boxes. I have a thing for window boxes.

The Upper West is awesome. I used to live near Nicole and loved grocery shopping at Fairway. Fairway is a sprawling emporium of deliciousness. We don't have room for things like Fairway down here. It's all about tiny living in my nabe.

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One of the best things about living in New York City is having immediate access to all sorts of delicious treats. Especially cupcakes. Nicole adores the cupcakes at Crumbs. I'm stoked that Crumbs keeps expanding and can now be found in several cities. Rhiannon and James like to keep it old-school with Magnolia. These are some Magnolia cupcakes. Note their classic pastel frostings and vintage sprinkles. And yes, they taste every bit as good as they look.

Carrie and Miranda had Magnolia cupcakes on Sex and the City when Carrie was telling Miranda about this boy Aidan she'd just met. If Carrie only knew what she was getting into...

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More good things to eat can be found at Chat 'n Chew. Nicole is a fan of their cupcake cake. I am sorry to report that Chat 'n Chew no longer makes that kind of cake. Which I have to say I do not get at all. Why would you stop making a delicious cake that everyone loves? How is that improving the world?

Fortunately, Chat 'n Chew can always be counted on for their superb grilled cheese and fries. I love that the whole place has these knickknacks and ding-dangs scattered all around, like gas station signs from the 50s and early toasters. This is my favorite section of the back room. You know you're in for some good times when vintage signs are in the vicinity.

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The West Village is known for its bohemian culture. This neighborhood is a magnet for creative types. Writers, artists, actors, designers - we're all here. You can see evidence of all the creative energy everywhere you look. This bike sometimes shows up near where James parks his bike. It says things like Bikes Not Bombs and Be the Change. It would probably belong to Danny if it were less flowery. 

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And I love this van. When you can make such a positive statement with a vehicle, you know you're doing something right.

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The best mobile coffee comes from MudTruck. New York street coffee at its best. They have a few trucks you can find around lower Manhattan. Each truck contains a very friendly neighbor ready to create your special drink.

Coffee is a Very Big Deal here in New York. I'm like the only person I know who only drinks decaf. But I love coffeehouses. My fave coffeehouse is Joe the Art of Coffee. Its owner, Jonathan, is featured in Take Me There. He's an inspiring example of how turning your dreams into reality is entirely possible. Joe is expanding and has several locations now. The Joe where Nicole and Danny waited out that downpour is the original location, a few blocks from their school.

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Rhiannon, James and Nicole go to Eames Academy of Design. That's not an actual school. I made it up. But I did use an actual school on West 10th Street as its model. I like that this school has lots of windows. Light and air are so important in classrooms. It's a shame that so many classrooms are stuffy with harsh lighting. Not cool.

See that third window up with the stripey arch over it? That's the library window from the cover of Take Me There. Here's the cool part: My cover designer never saw this school. He was able to imagine that window just by reading the book, even though the window is never mentioned.

susane colasanti

Nicole and Rhiannon have a project for Contemporary Design. They decide to do it on using recycled materials in designs that enhance urban aesthetics. So they go to the MoMA's sculpture garden to check out Picasso's She-Goat, my favorite sculpture. Picasso used objects like a wicker garbage can and flowerpots when he was making it.

Something about this goat really speaks to me. I've been obsessed with She-Goat ever since I first saw her when I was about 16. That was back before the sculpture garden. I panicked when I returned to the MoMA years later and couldn't find her. But a security guard told me she was in the garden. That was a huge relief.

susane colasanti

When everyone goes to Welcome to the Johnsons to see Unisex Salon play, they are impressed. Unisex Salon rocks exceptionally hard. This is their lead singer, Kenyon. He has angel wings tattooed on his back. So that part was actually true. I thought it would be fun to give a shout-out to a band I like and write in its actual lead singer.

Welcome to the Johnsons is a pretty cool place to hang out. I'm not into bars, but if I have to go to one because I'm out with a group and they're in a grownup mood it makes things a lot less boring to be somewhere fun like that. It seriously looks like some parents' living room from the 70s. Or the 80s. They even have tabletop Pac-Man. I rule at Pac-Man.

susane colasanti

Rhiannon likes to go to Hudson River Park to mellow out by the water or sketch the moon or look at the sparkly city lights. Here's her bench right next to the water. This is also where Rhiannon and James usually sit to eat their cupcakes. Sometimes I go to the park and sit here, too. It's an excellent spot for sunset watching. I like the glittery way sunlight reflects on the water.

In terms of orientation, New Jersey is to the right and the rest of the West Village is to the left. If you follow those streetlights all the way down for like 20 minutes, you'll reach Ground Zero. You can see the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

susane colasanti

I spend so much time wondering what building this is and whether the colors of its stripes have any significance that I should by able to explain all of this to you by now. The important thing is that the light stripes show is real! Most of the time no stripes are showing. It's just a dark slanted building top over in New Jersey. But then suddenly the stripes come on and start moving. It's very exciting because you never know when they might appear.

Once the stripes start moving, you can totally watch the stripey light show. The stripes flow across the slanted top from right to left. They come in different colors and widths. Sometimes there will just be one big purple stripe all alone and that's it. I find everything about these light stripes to be fascinating. Obviously, I enjoy geeking out over city lights.

susane colasanti

The night brings this whole other magical quality to New York City. Nights are filled with excitement and anticipation and the possibility of everything.

This overwhelming energy is what inspired James to invent iPod dancing. Here's the scene of where some serious iPod dancing went down. It had to happen at night. The day just doesn't understand what the night can do.

Those blue towers of light in the distance are the Tribute in Light. They're visible every year the week ending with September 11, when the lights are on all night and then fade into the dawn. I felt compelled to mention 9.11 in Take Me There. At the time I was writing it, I couldn't imagine setting a book in New York without doing so.

Excerpts

You can read the first three chapters of Take Me There in the Susane Colasanti Sampler.

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