A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book features kissing and petting, a character poses nude for an art class drawing, and girls talk about sex toys. One character even describes whipping her boyfriend "with my bra while he lies there in a fetal position and sucks on the heel of my stilettos." There is drinking, drug dealing, and using, and lots of strong language. Some labels are dropped: Red Bull, Starbucks, Fendi, Roberto Cavalli, Christian Louboutin, plus the names of real hip-hop artists.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tangie starts school at a New York City performing arts school, ready to dance. But the drama here happens both on and off the stage: uber-popular (but drug-dependent) Eden starts dating a gangsta rapper, rumors abound about a mysterious new girl who claims to be only 14, and even good-girl Tangie finds herself torn between her soul mate and the school's star dancer. This book packs in plenty of plot: There are closeted gay characters, a diva who is secretly super insecure -- and even a mystery surrounding Tangie's mom's long disappearance from her daughter's life. All the while the kids are dancing and drawing and acting their little hearts out.
Is it any good?
This series debut, about a group of mostly African-American teens at a New York City performing arts school, does have a fun premise. It has a lot of the familiar trappings -- backstabbing friends, closeted characters, absent parents, drugs, sex, fashion -- and enough lively dialogue to hook readers who like these never-ending soap opera sagas. At least these characters are good at something besides shopping, starving themselves, and gossip (though there's plenty of that here, too) -- they sweat on the dance floor, practice their drama dialogues, etc. Even the drugged-out, popular-but-hollow senior girl is presented as an enormous acting talent.
The big problem with this book -- and a lot of these clique lit series installments -- is that it spews too many story lines. Nothing is resolved here, and characters don't really show any growth. Fans may itch for the next volume, but they really won't have learned anything here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about young adult books -- like this one -- that feature lots of gritty, mature material. Is it OK for authors to push the envelope if it gets kids reading books? Do authors like Tia Williams promote unhealthy behavior by writing books that make drugs and sex seem glamorous?