Talented teens from different backgrounds are hosted in grand style at a swanky mansion in Los Angeles, where they are competing in Spotlight, a combination talent and reality show.
Parallel first-person narratives by the two protagonists illustrate the ways in which personal dreams can either falter or become reality, while providing a fascinating insight into the very public world of showbiz. Singing contestant Magnolia is forced to confront the fact that although she has made it onto the show, her success is due to her star-struck mother’s ambition and not from an inherent desire to shine. Ford sees the contest as a lifeline out of his dirt-poor existence in rural Arkansas. Desperate to escape from his rabidly dysfunctional family, Ford races to LA on his motorbike, only to find that his domineering brother, crazy sister and deadbeat parents pursue him in their RV, angling for a piece of his success. Inevitably, romance ensues, and Magnolia and Ford discover a real bond in spite of their very different circumstances. The endearing and well-rounded character of Ford prevents descent into cliché. Readers will find themselves swept along by his narrative when he finally and dramatically overcomes the obstacles in his path. Magnolia’s character is less well-defined, but perhaps her reticence befits the writer she hopes to become.
Funny, poignant and worldly-wise with a light touch. (Fiction. 14-18)