The Queen Bee of Bridgeton (ARC) by Leslie DuBois
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing
Pub. Date: May 17th, 2011
Series: Dancing Dream, #1
Age Level: 14+
Source: For review from author.
Synopsis via Goodreads
When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights. Maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?
Okay so first thing's first. I read The Queen Bee of Bridgeton in one sitting. In one sitting that happened to be between 3AM and 7AM in the morning. Doesn't sound like a big deal to you? It is. While this book wasn't what I'd call amazing, it is extremely rare that I ever truly read a book in one sitting and many of my most favorite books can not even brag that they've accomplished this feat.
Sonya was a very admirable, strong heroine. She's got a really good heart when it comes down to it, she's a hard worker, determined, and has a great, sassy sense of humor. That all being said, the synopsis is a bit misleading. While Sonya is 15 and in her sophomore year when she gets accepted into Bridgeton, the actual story takes place towards the end of her junior year with her close to turning seventeen. Just felt that needed mentioning. Moving on. I kept getting this vibe from Sonya like she was ashamed she was black and, in the beginning, this wasn't such a big deal. However, by the end of the book, I would have liked to have seen her take on more of an I'm-black-I'm-proud-get-used-to-it kinda attitude. Other than that I really liked her character and felt that she did grow and develop in other ways. Next is Will, our romantic interest. I was torn between finding him endearing, charming, and a tiny bit creepy. He had some distinct quirks, such as OCD, and his unfortunate past, home life, and desire to change made me love him and want things to work between him and Sonya. But still, he did a couple of things that...well...would have freaked me out a little had I been Sonya. Then we have Sasha, Sonya's sister. There was definitely more to this chick than what first met the eye and while I partially had her figured out, there was still something that ended up surprising me about her. Honestly, though if you've read the book you might think I'm crazy, I kinda loved her character. The Bitch Brigade, their actual group name, were little more than your typical mean girls, though maybe a bit nastier than average. Still, they added to the story, made for suitable antagonists, and I was glad to see that their reasoning for going after Sonya wasn't specifically due to her race. Sonya's dance instructor and principal were two characters I would have liked to have seen more from as they both showed potential.
DuBois has a real knack for creating books with a beginning that will suck you in. Like in Priscilla the Great, her MG book written under Sybil Nelson, she starts out with a chapter consisting of a high intensity moment before rewinding, working back up to that point, and then past it. When The Queen Bee of Bridgeton starts, Sonya is sitting before the school's review board. I was automatically held captive and the desire to know what had happened to lead up to this point is what kept me quickly flipping through the pages from there on out. On the surface, this is just another mean girl book. Dig a little deeper and there are suddenly these other layers and added depth that make it stand apart. For example, the relationship between Sonya and her sister was a keenly crafted element that really helped make this story as good as it was. I also loved the whole dance incorporation, though I'd have liked to have seen this come into play even more.
DuBois's writing style isn't fancy, complicated, or filled with eloquent, metaphorical turns of phrase. It is simple, fast-paced, and fun to read, filled with wit and humor. And you know, sometimes that is all you really want. There wasn't really anything about it that stood out to me as being great, but there wasn't anything noticeably wrong either. With the mood I was in, this worked just fine for me.
The ending was probably one of my favorite parts of this book. It boasted a nice twist and was beautifully bittersweet, tying up The Queen Bee of Bridgeton very nicely while still leaving things open enough for the sequel. I also got to get a little sneak peek at said sequel at the back of the book. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing Sonya's journey in dance and life continue.
All in all, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton is a story of mean girls, lies, betrayal, perseverance, romance, and finding your way. Throw in some killer ballet moves and I came away with a quick and compelling read that I really enjoyed. If what I have just described sounds like something you'd enjoy, then I'd definitely say to pick it up and give it a go. (Only $3.99 for ebook/kindle/nook!) I know I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for the next book, The Devil of DiRisio.
1st in Series: B
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