Rock music offers four teen girls a much-needed outlet and escape in mid-1980s South Carolina.
The Screaming Divas are an unlikely ensemble. Brought together by Trudy, a magnet for trouble who is fresh out of juvie, the band also includes gorgeous Cassie, a former child-beauty-pageant queen; stoic Harumi, a classically trained violinist who had a meltdown at her Juilliard audition; and shy Esther, who harbors a secret crush on Cassie. The third-person narration rotates through the four members’ viewpoints to show what attracts each girl to the group. Even as the Divas begin to enjoy modest success on Columbia’s club scene, the girls’ rebellious impulses lead them to take other risks, such as moving out of their parents’ homes, experimenting with drugs, and starting romantic relationships with older men and women. At times, the novel feels more like a catalog of teen social issues than a coming-of-age story. Kamata’s (Gadget Girl, 2013) sensitive, restrained prose shines during small character moments—like Cassie’s fierce recitation of Sylvia Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” during English class—but dulls the impact and energy of the concert scenes.
A strangely tame read despite all the sex, drugs and rock-’n’-roll. (Historical fiction. 14-17)