At the crossroads of preteen and teen, Wylie faces the strain of growing up.
Wylie and her longtime best friend, Jada, have loved boy-band heartthrob Colby Cash for years. Now that Colby Cash is hosting the television vocal competition show Non-Instrumental, Wylie can hardly wait for the new season to begin. Jada, however, is less enthusiastic, the first sign, as they begin seventh grade, that there are some growing pains ahead. Jada, prone to melodrama, spreads her wings and gets a part in the school musical. Feeling abandoned, Wylie creates a bond with a new friend, Libby, who encourages her to get over her stage fright and join her in starting an a cappella group in order to win a video call with Cash. Busy nursing her feelings of estrangement, narrator Wylie also bemoans having to spend weekends with her father and his new family. Tensions flair when jealousy compels Jada to create a competing singing group, thus incentivizing the flow of creative juices. With the help of a mentoring teacher, the young teens raise their voices and learn to harmonize, traversing the tricky landscape of hurt feelings and maturation. Although she shares her name with a black actress and has long, black hair and dark eyes, Jada’s identity is unexplored, while Wylie and Libby are white; the cast seems solidly middle-class in this kind, mild-mannered drama.
A sweet middle school episode that celebrates the friendship gained from working together. (Fiction. 9-14)