The Cutting Room Floor is the debut novel by Dawn Klehr. Marketed as a young adult title, this fast-paced novel will appeal to anyone looking for a quick read. It will be of particular interest to readers who are also film fans, as well as those interested in stories about LGBT teens coming to terms with their sexuality.
Following a trend we have recently seen in several novels, The Cutting Room Floor is told in alternating point-of-view chapters. In Klehr’s book, these viewpoint characters are Riley Frost and Desmond “Dez” Brandt. Both are high school students in an area called The Heights, close to Minneapolis. They have been neighbors and friends for their entire lives and are currently working on a short film project for submission to competition.
As the novel begins, Riley has just been dumped in a very public and humiliating way by her girlfriend Emma. As a result, the entire school now knows that she likes girls and a campaign of bullying from the mayor’s ultra-religious daughter, Tori, is causing extreme stress. At times, it seems as though only Dez understands Riley and she is grateful to have his support.
Desmond Brandt has secrets of his own, however. His feelings for Riley are far from platonic and he’s not afraid to do what he must in his attempt to get her to notice him as more than just a friend. Casting her in the lead in his student film is just the beginning of his efforts to insert himself into Riley’s life.
When Riley stumbles upon some clues concerning the recent murder of one of their teachers, she reaches out to Dez to help with the investigation. Dez, who is more than happy to spend more time with Riley, agrees and what they uncover could place them both in danger.
Dawn Klehr writes convincingly in the voice of these two teens. Throughout the novel, there are references to both classic and contemporary movies that are sure to resonate with most readers. Klehr even goes so far as to write some of the chapters in screenplay format, complete with stage directions, dialogue cues and camera angles.
While the book lacks the depth of characterization commonly seen in adult novels, the teen audience will easily relate to the various issues raised in The Cutting Room Floor – and the film elements are unique enough to carry most readers through what is ultimately a quick and satisfying read. The Cutting Room Floor is a promising start to Dawn Klehr’s writing career.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.