The Queen Bee of Bridgeton
(Dancing Dream #1)
by Leslie DuBois
Reading challenge: Freebie February – 5th book
When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights…maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?
This is a relatively easy read despite the difficult issues it tackles. The Bitch Brigade at the school not only terrorise people, they are also involved in actions that could easily get them a light prison sentence. All in all they are the worst of scum, especially since they are hardly hardened criminals from the worst of circumstances that don’t know any better but privileged teenagers. They ought to behave like human beings.
I am wondering about the teachers – what kind of pedagogical professionals are they? Isn’t it odd to have many students drop out of an elite school all of a sudden? When there are rumours of frightened students left naked in the stairways, of a ‘Cherry Pickers’ list with a ranking of sexual acts performed by girls listed by their names… I’d be horrified at the blatant disregard of human rights and order a covert investigation at the school. Certainly the headmaster should have done more when he prides himself on his fairness.
Our heroine is Sonya, an African-American ballerina from one of the poorest districts in town, is a very sympathetic person. Dance means everything to her, so she spends most of her time training and little on socializing. Consequently she has no friends at school except her sister Sasha who’d do everything for a place at Princeton. Sasha’s one goal in life is to get out of the ghetto and leave the shame behind, so she places lots of pressure on Sonya. Of course things don’t go according to plans when Will Maddox, the basketball ace, gets interested in Sonya. The guy has a hard life and many problems in need of a good fix, but he is a good boyfriend nonetheless. Sonya especially is good for him in an understated way, no great drama and fireworks in the process. Thank the stars for that. Of course, she makes some mistakes, as is only natural for her young age and her first relationship.
I really liked the book and that it smoothly incorporates different social motifs: from racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, and mobbing. We’ve got characters of all races and places in life, so I really like that there are few stereotypes in the book. Admittedly, the whole group of ‘mean girls’ is a big stereotype of the school setting, but since the focus is on Sonya and her life, we don’t see that much of them and therefore the level of predictable elements is considerably lower than it would be otherwise.
I hope I’ll get my hands on the sequels one of these days and discover what the author has in store for me. I expect I won’t be disappointed. I managed to gobble down this book in one setting despite the bullying after all. 😀