cover image A MOTHER'S GIFT


Britney, Author, Britney Spears, Author, Lynne Spears, Author . Delacorte $14.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-72953-6

Pop fiction takes on a new meaning as teen singing sensation Spears and her mother, Lynne, produce a slight and treacly co-written rags-to-riches tale. Holly Faye Lovell lives with her mother, Wanda, in tiny Biscay, Miss. The 14-year-old enjoys life in the slow lane and entertains dreams of singing stardom. Though she performs in the church choir and at local events, Holly lacks the self-confidence (and opportunity) to develop her talent. All that changes when her loyal, car-mechanic boyfriend helps secure her an audition at the prestigious Haverty School of Music in Hattiesburg and she is offered a full scholarship. But at Haverty, Holly's provincial ways (and wardrobe, hand-stitched by her mom) make her a target for a bevy of wealthy snobs ("students whose parents had the big bucks to afford it. Holly and Wanda had little bucks"). The didactic melodrama unfolds in fast-paced, if sometimes jerky, prose, and a good share of it centers on Wanda (who keeps a diary). In the climax, the woman reveals a long-held secret to Holly, hinted at in the opening chapter. The Spearses convey credible feelings of teenage anxiety throughout, and Britney's fans will surely flock to this title (enticed by a jacket that highlights her name and suggests her likeness). But ultimately, they will be disappointed that the fictional Holly begs comparison with, but is far less memorable than, the real navel-baring singer. Ages 9-12. (Apr.)