Viking. Oct. 2023. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593465752.
Gr 4-7–All her life, Sparkle has known she was destined to be a star. She has a mom who manages her social media, an actor dad, and a younger sister with her own star power. At her arts middle school, she is hoping for a big part in the annual musical; but it all seems lost when she begins to lose her hair. What follows is an exploration of self image, marketability in a social media influencer world, friendship, bullying, pursuit of passion, and family dynamics as they learn about her alopecia. Sparkle and her family are Black, and her school is portrayed as very diverse. The intense focus on social media and image can feel somewhat superficial but will also ring true for readers entering fraught middle school years during this era. The narrative is told through Sparkle’s point of view, which is where the writing shines as an authentic experience for a sixth grader. If some of the other characters seem one-dimensional, that can also be attributed to the limited narrative style. While not a first purchase, this book will find an audience for its empathetic portrayal of a young person who is facing a fundamental shift in their self-identity.
VERDICT A solid novel about alopecia through a social media influencer/aspiring actress lens for a tween audience.

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