Tatum is facing her stressful eighth-grade audition for a clarinet seat in the District Honor Band and must also cope with her best friend's first romance.
Tatum and Lori, BFF for years, are so close that their friends call them "Tay-Lo." Now Michael, a new clarinet player, has moved into the school. Not only is he cute and seemingly in love with Lori, but rumor has it that he's a fine player—and only three clarinets can be selected for the prestigious band. Lori, on flute, has always accompanied Tatum during auditions, a lot less scary than playing solo, but now she wants to accompany Michael. She even suggests that Tatum deliberately fail so her boyfriend can make the band. As Tatum navigates these betrayals, she also must deal with the recent breakup of her parents' marriage. Aaron, the clarinet player with whom she shares a music stand and friendship, now becomes a lot more supportive and even begins to gently evolve into a romantic interest in a nicely low-key portrayal of young love. Dominy's characters and situations—shown through Tatum's authentic voice—ring wholly true as newly developing boy/girl connections inevitably affect the life-defining girl/girl friendships that preceded them.
Tatum's maturing recognition of her own self-worth and realistic outcomes—sadly not everything works out the way she would wish—make this a satisfying and believable read. (Fiction. 10-14)