cover image Becoming Beatriz

Becoming Beatriz

Tami Charles. Charlesbridge Teen, $17.99 (272p) ISBN 978-1-580-89778-5

At 15, Puerto Rican Beatriz Mendez has been a Diabla for three years, but the death of her older brother, Junito, at the hands of a Haitian rival gang and the increased pressure to prove her loyalty lead her to question the criminal, often violent path she’s accepted as inevitable. Charles (Like Vanessa) creates a vivid sense of time and place in her second novel, set in Newark, N.J., in the 1980s. Beatriz’s talent for dance leads to the chance to audition for her favorite television show, Fame. This opportunity, along with the consequences of her brother’s untimely death, challenge her to make difficult choices about her present in order to become who she’s meant to be, regardless of expectations from her fellow Diablos, her tight-knit family, and larger society. Her growing friendship and attraction to Nasser, a new classmate of Haitian descent, and her kinship with Fame’s Debbie Allen are meaningful additions, providing outside perspectives into what Beatriz considers an inescapable, normal lifestyle. A memorable portrayal of an ambitious young woman whose growing belief in her own skill and worth allow her to reach beyond her current circumstances. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: Laura Perkins, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.) [/em]