Sonya, a shy, black ballerina, who’s been cleaning a studio for years in exchange for dance lessons, might actually be able to escape her real life in the ghetto and fulfill her dream of becoming a world-class ballerina, thanks to her dance scholarship at the prestigious Bridgeton Academy. Her older sister, Sasha, who spent years trying to get in through academic achievement, finally made it too. So, both sisters spend their lives in glam by day and return to cockroaches, nearby gunshots and ketchup sandwiches by night.
But, with Sasha having acted like a second mom to Sonya for years, by shrouding her from the dangers surrounding them and making sure she keeps up with her studies, Sonya has been skirting through life with her head down.
So, when she attracts the attention of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becomes the most popular girl in school, the queens who rule her school don’t like it one bit and take no hesitation in letting her know it. They’ve literally ruined the lives of others, and Sonya has become their number one target to destroy. And this shy girl must reach inside herself to find strength and the ugly in order to beat them at their own game. But even if she can, it may be too late to save her dream and her relationship.
What stands out immediately in this novel is the voice. It’s full of humor, but also laced with a little bit of pain, which is hard to pull off. I find Sonya a relatable protagonist in that she has awkward moments, a passion for something and often underestimates her own worth. Growing up with a deadbeat father in a neighborhood of crime with no guys even glancing twice at her, she’s felt invisible and bumbly her whole life, except when she’s dancing. That’s when she comes alive. And at Bridgeton, and in everything, dance is her sole focus. So, when she catches Will’s eye, she’s shocked and doesn’t even know who he is. She blows him off at first, but something about him intrigues her and she soon becomes as smitten with him as he is with her.
I liked several things about this novel, but the things that stand out are the romance, the dashes of humor and the emotional journey the reader can experience.
If you want a YA book that’s different and fresh on the familiar fish-out-of-water theme, that is packed with surprises and little bits that will make you laugh out loud, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton is definitely one to put on your to-read wall.
~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.