Meredith explores the difficult relationship between two sisters: one who harbors a secret talent and the other who lusts after any spotlight.
Present-tense narrator Teddy Lee was in second grade when her mother went AWOL. With her father working two jobs, Teddy became caretaker of her broken family, especially of younger sister Billie. Now, though her days are packed with school and overseeing Billie, the white teen’s nights remain her own, spent writing music. The action begins when her flaky older brother, Winston, presents yet another get-rich scheme. After Winston shares Teddy’s music demo with his DJ boss, Randy offers to fund their band’s tour. Not having a band does not deter Winston or Billie. Teddy finally agrees to play along in order to see if her music is any good. Their band, Red Velvet Crush––"Sweet. Rich. With the potential for serious damage"—goes on tour, with Winston as manager and Billie seizing center stage, Teddy conceding until she refuses to let Billie sing one of her own songs. Meredith ratchets up the tension between the two sisters until Billie threatens to steal not only Teddy’s musical thunder, but everything else as well. She balances adolescent wit with lyrical prose as Teddy finds strength within her talent: “a song of lamplight and soft guitar, a song of longing and absolution, a song of mine.”
Though the ending leans toward melodrama, this fast-paced story of sibling rivalry and betrayal should appeal to a wide teen audience. (Fiction. 13-17)