Seventeen-year-old Chloe goes on a road trip to audition for a dance conservatory.
With her mom away on a cruise, good girl Chloe Pierce resolves to attend auditions in Washington, D.C., for her dream school, a prestigious ballet conservatory, even though her widowed mom said no, wanting her to remain closer to home. Just as she leaves New Jersey, handsome-but-loathed neighbor Eli Greene fake blackmails her into taking him—and his dog—along and giving them a ride to the train station in D.C., therefore shortening his trip to see his father in North Carolina. Chloe unhappily complies, her anger toward him eventually explained by an incident from their shared past. The plot meanders along, and so do the pair of black teens (and the dog), eventually reaching the auditions and talking openly about their unresolved history. Chloe’s former crush on Eli is resurrected, but thankfully only after he’s properly apologized for his misdeeds. The ending feels a bit pat, as does Chloe’s assumption that Eli’s insistence that everything happens for a reason is indeed the truth. This is a slow, quiet book best suited to contemplative readers who can forgive the uneven pacing and minimal character development.
A decent debut from a promising new writer—readers will hope for a stronger sophomore offering. (Fiction. 12-18)