Set at a summer music camp in Indiana, this debut YA novel spins a tale of romance and self-discovery.
Seventeen-year-old Tullia Cicero “Kiki” Nichols arrives at Indianapolis’ Krause College for a six-week voice camp determined to be a different girl than she was back home in Chicago. There, she was a “sweatpants enthusiast and perpetual chorus girl” and a huge fan of the sci-fi series Project Earth and its soundtrack of 1990s girl power music. She’s got more friends on Twitter than in real life, especially now that her best pal, Beth, has dumped her out of jealousy that Kiki got into music camp and she didn’t. At camp, Kiki wears twee dresses selected by her older sister, Tina, and conceals her Project Earth fandom—and starts to make new friends, including queen bee soprano Brie, dreamboat Seth Banks, and khaki-clad cutie Jack, who’s attending golf camp at Krause but secretly loves drumming. Kiki, a soprano, knows her parents won’t pay for Krause unless she receives one of seven scholarships awarded at the end of camp—and her best bet at getting one is landing the renowned Greg Bertrand as her voice teacher. But when she’s assigned to his class, he tells her in confidence that she can improve her chances by informing on any classmates behaving inappropriately. For Bertrand, this includes singing pop songs, meaning Kiki’s beloved Lilith Fair music is forbidden. Does Kiki really want to study nothing but opera for four years? And who’s Bertrand’s mole in their midst? Hammerle captures the intoxicating potential of leaving home and trying on a new persona, even as Kiki gradually realizes that she isn’t being true to herself. The author also demonstrates an understanding of how teens use social media—every chapter begins with one of Kiki’s tweets, and her online friendships are as important to her as those offline. Finally, Hammerle resists the urge to couple her protagonist off predictably—when was the last time a YA heroine got to kiss two boys while having a crush on a third without it ending badly for everyone?
A winning story about a teenage voice student that hits all the right notes.