A 12-year-old white girl is determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a country-music star.
Maya lives in Nashville and is determined to make it big in music, so she is thrilled when cute, white schoolmate Jack asks her if she will be his singing partner for the upcoming local auditions of the reality TV show Dueling Duets. Then her parents inform her that they have bought an RV and are selling their house, and the family will be traveling around the country. Maya is devastated. Not only will she miss the audition with its chance for fame, but what if Jack forgets her? While Nall’s writing is competent, Maya is a thin protagonist. Her first-person, present-tense narration reiterates her desire to get back to Nashville so often that readers may be tempted to yell “we know!” after the umpteenth time. She continually texts her friend Kenzie, ignoring the natural beauty of the national parks that the RV is traveling through, to hatch surprisingly immature plans to get back to Nashville. By the end of the story, Maya develops a smidgen of awareness that her self-absorbed actions have negatively affected others, but this denouement is nearly neutralized by the story’s ongoing plot assumption that 12-year-old females relate their self-worth to the approval of others, whether it be fame or boys—a tired, unempowering notion.
Misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-11)