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Middle Grade Fiction 173
The curse of the theater
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Monica Garcia is thrilled to get an understudy role on Broadway. At 12, this is the first time she will perform on Broadway, and on top of that, she gets to perform at the famous Ethel Merman Theater. Unfortunately, when she arrives in NYC with her grandmother, she discovers that something weird is going on. Several people have left the play, including the person she was supposed to be the understudy for, due to strange accidents at the theater. If Monica and her new friends want the show, and the theater itself, to be saved, they will have to uncover the mystery behind the spooky theater.

Mandy Gonzalez’s FEARLESS is a heartwarming story about a young girl who gets her big break only to see her dream on the brink of shattering as soon as she arrives. Monica is a kind, brave protagonist who dreams big and tries hard. Particularly in the beginning, she grapples with imposter syndrome, self-doubt, fear, anxiety, worry, and more, but she keeps going. She always tries to push forward and be brave, especially when she knows something big is on the line. The story also shows Monica has a solid support system in her grandmother, her best friend and her parents back home, and her new theater friends, especially April.

While I enjoyed the spooky/mystery element overall, it was a little confusing trying to figure out what manner of mystery was going on. The squad didn’t have a solid understanding of the history of the theater until near the ending, so I was never quite sure if the story was trying to hint at a ghost or an intentional sabotage from a developer or something else. When the answer to the mystery did get revealed, it was a tad underwhelming. However, the scene where Monica attempts to right everything was very well done and expertly dramatic.

FEARLESS ends on a fitting note on the role of storytelling and the power it has. This is an excellent pick for theater and drama kids who love big performances.
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