UPTOWN DREAMS by Kelli London


Age Range: 12 - 16
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An uneven narrative follows four aspiring young artists attending the Harlem Academy of Creative and Performing Arts.

An initial chapter from each character's point of view introduces the character and his or her major obstacle. La-La has a younger sister with cancer and an irresponsible mother. Reese produces hip-hop beats in secret, but her strict mother insists she only study classical music. Ziggy hides his dancing because his West Indian father is convinced that boys who dance are gay. Jamaica-Kincaid has convinced her rich, absentee parents that she attends boarding school in Connecticut. As the school year progresses, romances unfold, a rivalry heats up and secrets are revealed. Harlem's 125th Street provides a warm and welcome cohesion among the stories as multiple characters encounter the Sandman, “the official unofficial mayor of Harlem,” and Ziggy's brother, Broke-Up, whom Ziggy helps sell knockoff handbags with an illegal vending license. Some gaps and dropped threads in the plot are distracting: Readers see a character wake up from a hangover without having seen her arrive at the party that caused it, and a threat to the school's funding that initially seems significant is resolved off-page.

A light read for teens who love performing arts... and the other kind of drama. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7582-6128-1
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2011


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