Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1918
The play's the thing
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
When Maddie's family moves into a small and decrepit house because they are having financial difficulties, Maddie hopes that she can make friends in her new high school, and possibly get a part in a school drama production. She gets an answer to both wishes when she meets neighbor Angela, whose mother is the drama coach... and whose brother, Jesse, is awfully cute. Maddie is very talented, but manages to make the current diva, Rica, angry. Rica sabotages Maddie's audition by telling her to take a double does of allergy medicine, but Maddie bears her shame with good grace, especially when she gets an even better part in a community production. She manages to make friends, get involved in school, and have several boys interested in her. She's a huge fan of tap dancer Gene Kelly, and is secretly looking for a boy who can measure up. When she realizes that Jesse is a very talented tap dancer who quit because his father considered dancing beneath Jesse's athletic capabilities, she is instantly smitten. Will he feel the same way?
Good Points
Maddie's easy transition to her new school, and her success with her acting, make this an excellent teen fantasy book, reminiscent of the 1950s romance novels by Beverly Clearly or Rosamund duJardin. There are challenges, such as the family's straightened circumstances, but they are overcome with hard work and a supportive family.

This also delves into the nitty gritty of stage productions, from trying out, dealing with competition and drama, to the long hours spent practicing.

This series is particularly good about having characters that are racially diverse. Jesse's father is Hispanic, but his mother is not, and it's interesting that the book addresses that fact that his father wants him to date a Latina woman. This doesn't overshadow the romance or the plot of the story, but is a nice addition that rounds out the character.

Teen readers might not know who Gene Kelly is, but will hopefully be encouraged to research him after reading this amusing tale of high school drama... both on and off the stage.
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