I Wanna Be Where You Are

Roaring Brook. Jun. 2019. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250294883.
Gr 7 Up–Dance is the thing that brings joy to Chloe’s life. That’s why she’s determined to audition for Avery Johnson’s conservatory, a place where she will be among dancers of all colors and shapes and where she will fit in more than she does now. Her dark skin doesn’t match the lighter tones of the girls in her studio. But her mother will not let her audition, so Chloe schemes to drive from her New Jersey home to Washington, DC, to audition while her mother is on vacation. Chloe’s neighbor and former crush, Eli, figures out her plan and invites himself and his dog along for the ride. Chloe’s history with Eli is full of ups and downs, and this journey follows the same path. But in sorting out her feelings about Eli, Chloe figures out some important truths about herself as well. Chloe and Eli are both interesting and layered characters, and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep even the most prescient readers guessing. Readers can’t help but root for Chloe and Eli to overcome their past and move toward a future together.
VERDICT A strong debut, recommended for dancers and wallflowers alike

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