Harassment and manipulation abound at a competitive feeder school for New York's American Ballet Company.
When Gigi, a sunny, positive newcomer from California and the school's only black student, is cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, blonde, powerful Bette is furious. E-Jun, whom classmates call June, is simply dejected; she's the Sugar Plum Fairy's understudy, and her mother has been threatening to enroll her in a traditional high school if she doesn't start getting big roles. The three girls take turns narrating chapters, and readers learn secrets about each of them: Gigi has a potentially dangerous heart condition; Bette pops pills to endure her rich, alcoholic mother's cruel remarks; June has an eating disorder and a vicious rivalry with her former best friend, Sei-Jin, that began when Sei-Jin tried to kiss her. Lipstick-scrawled warnings appear on mirrors, confidential medical records are posted for all to see, and acts of violence, both petty and not-so-petty, are committed. Despite the book’s decidedly gossipy tone, however, each character is fully realized, and each is sympathetic in her own way. A climactic ending fails to resolve a few key questions, suggesting further twists and turns in a sequel.
A page-turner with a heart. (Fiction. 14-18)