Dillon’s dad wants him to play football, his crew wants him to freestyle, but all he wants to do is dance, dance.
Seventh grade proves to be anything but boring for 12-year-old Dillon Parker. A bench warmer on his school’s football team, Dillon dances with his freestyle crew, the Dizzee Freekz, while secretly longing for the training and technique that can gain him admittance to Dance-Splosion, a prominent Tennessee studio. His crew members, studio dropouts themselves, loathe the restrictions of structured dance and see an opportunity to concoct a perfect revenge prank on their old studio. Dillon must audition for a coveted dance scholarship, win it, and use his acceptance speech to belittle Dance-Splosion and its silly rules. All goes according to plan until Dillon, under the tutelage of Dance-Splosion’s best and haughtiest ballerina, starts to enjoy the dancer he’s becoming. Benjamin’s debut novel is a cross between Step Up and Mean Girls, with all of the requisite tropes found in a school drama, from arrogant cheerleaders and dimwitted jocks to anti-establishment rebels. The novel convincingly captures the herd mentality of the middle school years, when children rely on their friends to dictate how they dress and what their dreams should be, but some individual characterizations are less finely drawn than they should be. With the exception of the charismatic Haitian-Greek leader of Dillon’s crew, the novel is not notably diverse.
An earnest first novel with a solid message about finding out who you are on your own terms. (Fiction. 10-14)