Relationship drama among girls dominates this lightweight offering.
Lidia and Sydney, Florida private school sophomores and longtime best friends, are co-captains of the school’s struggling girls’ a cappella group, the Nightingales. Unfortunately, the ambitions they harbor for its triumphant re-emergence are threatened after Lidia spots the boy she has a crush on kissing blonde, white, curly-haired Sydney. Lidia is also struggling to balance the time demands of singing with her newfound—and secret—passion for dance. Catty queen bees waiting to capitalize on Lidia and Sydney’s conflict, a rivalry with the school’s high-profile male a cappella group, a new Latina singer with stage fright, and an attractive mystery boy on the bus all add to the chaos. Ethnic diversity is conveyed primarily through surnames, with no cultural texture to round the characters out. However, character development is quite weak across the board, with a few portrayals—particularly of Lidia’s Japanese-American family and Indian-American Nightingales member Donna Patel—feeling cartoonish. Also troubling, the lead male characters are portrayed as unfailingly charming, sincere, caring, confident, and emotionally perceptive, while interactions among girls are marked by back-stabbing, jealousy, dishonesty, self-doubt, and public meltdowns.
Although there is lip service to sisterhood, this novel plays right into many of the most insidious negative stereotypes of teenage girls. (Fiction. 12-18)