In Halifax Harbour a 16-year-old girl with snow-cone–blue hair and a lip ring performs ballet to punk rock while she paints for the passing public.
After several noise complaints, performance artist Sydney Hart must pack up and say goodbye to her tips, her only source of income. Then an invitation to a speed-painting competition hosted by the prestigious art academy she attended before her mom lost her job offers Sydney a glimmer of hope. The Brush Off’s grand prize is full tuition and room and board, which would allow Sydney to return to the school. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to win, and that includes suppressing who she’s become—a creative performance artist who doesn’t look like the preppy academy student she was two years ago. Should she risk competing as the artist she is instead of the one the academy wants her to be? Sydney does her best work when she dances to loud music and makes a mess while she paints, a modus operandi that doesn’t jibe with the academy’s uptight, rigid constraints. In this brief novel, Sydney is frustratingly wishy-washy, going back and forth—during the course of the competition’s two days—between being who she is now and who she was when she fit in at the school. Her dark-skinned, pink-haired best friend, Lish, and competition rival Jorge comprise the white teen’s support system.
A feel-good story with a tidy, happy ending. (Fiction. 12-16)