I received this book for free from NetGalley to facilitate my review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Random House Children's Books on 04/25/2023
Genres: Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Emotions & Feelings, Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Friendship, Juvenile Fiction / Social Themes / Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
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After Shannon accidentally lands a lead role in the summer musical, she realizes she has bigger things to worry about than stage fright in this contemporary middle-school novel about strained friendships, the positive power of theater, and the realities of being a tween with OCD.
Shannon Carter never considered herself much of a theater person. Not like her two BFFs, Elise, an actress, and Fatima, a techie. Shannon’s always been content to stay backstage, helping wherever she can. But when the director of the summer musical hears Shannon singing, he encourages her to step out of the wings and into the spotlight.
At first, Shannon is hesitant. As a twelve-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder, she depends on routine. But when she braves the audition, she discovers that center stage is the one place where she doesn’t feel anxious. She lands a lead role, and everyone in her life is ecstatic . . . except Elise.
To make matters worse, Shannon’s eccentric and opinionated grandmother moves in with her and her mom after a fluke house fire. As opening night approaches, Shannon feels pressure to save her friendship with Elise, to make Mom and Grandma Ruby act like grown-ups, and to follow the old theater adage The show must go on.
CW: Mental Illness, OCD, Anxiety
I’m going to say it – I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I’m not usually a fan of middle grade books, but I did enjoy this one.
I like the way it portrays mental illnesses as nothing to be ashamed of. That someone with mental illness, whether it be OCD, anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses can do the things they want and the things that make them happy. So often I read about mental illness in books and the person is defined by it. While Shannon’s OCD and anxiety feature in the book, they’re not who she is.
I loved Shannon. I also loved Micah and Grandma Ruby. I admit, there weren’t any characters in this book I didn’t like, which is a rarity.
The writing was great, the book moves along at a good pace, and the plot is interesting. I love how even in a contemporary middle grade novel, you can have a twist – even if that twist is more of a solution to a problem.
I gave this book 4 stars because it was a cute, fun read that I recommend to anyone who likes middle grade novels or has kids in middle grade age.