cover image Last Chance Dance

Last Chance Dance

Lakita Wilson. Viking, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-59-35256-16

Wilson (Be Real, Macy Weaver) showcases an expert sense of comedic timing and an emphatic understanding of contemporary adolescent trials in this sparkling rom-com. For all four years of high school, Maryland native Leila Bean has enjoyed “relationship perfection” with boyfriend Dev Rajan—until he abruptly dumps her three weeks before graduation. Determined to distract her from her misery, Leila’s best friend insists that Leila participate in her school’s upcoming Last Chance Dance. The event pairs consenting students with three former crushes and one wild card match generated by a computer; at the end of a trial period, the participants are expected to ask one of their matches to the dance. When Leila’s dates with her first three choices don’t pan out, her last option is the wild card pick: class clown Tre’, whom she’s despised since he publicly humiliated her during sophomore year. Leila’s struggles with self-worth following her breakup and anxiety around learning to trust Tre’ despite their unfriendly past are brilliantly rendered via snappy dialogue, and the large, three-dimensional cast adds another layer of energy to this optimistic tale of heartache and rediscovery. Most characters are Black; Dev is Indian cued. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)