Etta, self-described “rich black was-ballerina,” is blessed with a strong will and personality to match and an enviable gift for achieving her goals—if only she knew what they were.
Ever since she dated a boy, bisexual Etta’s been on the outs with the few uncloseted lesbians at her Nebraska private school. Refusing to stay on their side of the cultural line has netted her nonstop bullying and the cold shoulder from her best friend, Rachel. What hurt most, though, was being told she’s not ballerina material (i.e., not bird-thin and white). Still, through sheer grit Etta’s battled back from an eating disorder, unlike Bianca, the dangerously thin girl with a gorgeous singing voice in their therapy group. When both girls audition for Brentwood, a New York arts school, Etta’s drawn into Bianca’s orbit, which also includes her closeted gay brother, James, and his straight friend, Mason. Etta may be conflicted about Brentwood (could/should she attend dance school instead?) but not about what matters most: finding a niche where she can thrive. Smart, assertive teens with take-charge personalities turn up more often in fantasy than realistic teen fiction, making Etta stand out. As she figures out what she needs and where to find it, Etta’s stubborn persistence engages readers’ sympathies and sends the bracing message that sisters can (still) do it for themselves.
A smart, insightful love letter to line-crossing individualists. (Fiction. 14-18)