"A compelling read about the quest for fame!"
—Debbie Allen, star of Fame
"Redemption is a heartbeat away."
—Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of the Pura Belpre Award winner Under the Mesquite
Beatriz dreams of a life spent dancing--until tragedy on the day of her quinceañera changes everything.
Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days--that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her brother's gang needs running, when her mami can't brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go?
Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz's story is a timeless one of a teenager's navigation of romance, her brother's choices, and her own family's difficult past. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.
At 15, Puerto Rican Beatriz Mendez has been a Diabla for three years, but the death of her older brother, Junito, at the hands of a Haitian rival gang and the increased pressure to prove her loyalty lead her to question the criminal, often violent path she's accepted as inevitable. Charles (Like Vanessa) creates a vivid sense of time and place in her second novel, set in Newark, N.J., in the 1980s. Beatriz's talent for dance leads to the chance to audition for her favorite television show, Fame. This opportunity, along with the consequences of her brother's untimely death, challenge her to make difficult choices about her present in order to become who she's meant to be, regardless of expectations from her fellow Diablos, her tight-knit family, and larger society. Her growing friendship and attraction to Nasser, a new classmate of Haitian descent, and her kinship with Fame's Debbie Allen are meaningful additions, providing outside perspectives into what Beatriz considers an inescapable, normal lifestyle. A memorable portrayal of an ambitious young woman whose growing belief in her own skill and worth allow her to reach beyond her current circumstances. Ages 12 up.)