Stella Rising

Orca. (Orca Soundings). Jan. 2020. 128p. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781459825628.
Gr 9 Up–This hi-lo title follows Stella, an aspiring teenage musician on the verge of scoring her big break. When a video of Stella performing her favorite band’s song goes viral, she is invited to perform alongside them when they visit her town. Meanwhile, her reckless mother, Viv, is leaving Stella alone to follow her new boyfriend to South America, continuing a pattern of abandonment that Stella has experienced her entire life. As Stella starts to perform with the band, their lead singer begins making romantic advances. Lacking confidence and desperate for the money, Stella is faced with a difficult choice: follow the band, though it reminds her of her mother’s mistakes, or be authentic and create her own music. Stella is a relatable protagonist who navigates difficult romantic and personal relationships while trying to be true to herself. The book, written at a third grade reading level with a controlled vocabulary, is an engaging choice for reluctant readers. However, mentions of Viv’s drug and alcohol use make this title most suitable for older readers.
VERDICT This story of a young musician finding herself is a solid choice for collections serving hi-lo readers at the high school level.

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