S. & S./Denene Millner. Mar. 2022. 352p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781534495821.
Gr 8 Up–In Smith’s debut novel, Genie was once a promising young ballerina and one of very few dancers of color in her competitive dance school. Now, three months after an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down, Genie is adjusting to a very different life than the one she had envisioned. Her grief at the loss of dance and her anger at her current situation are raw and real. “Mad doesn’t begin to describe how I feel,” she reports during a particularly challenging physical therapy session. Accessibility issues, a toxic ex-boyfriend who won’t leave her alone, and the secrets she is keeping from her mom add to her frustrations. Even as Genie pushes people away and lashes out in anger, readers see her take steps to grow and pursue a new dream—choreography—and new friendship with Kyle from her physical therapy clinic, who is recovering from his own accident. Smith deftly handles complex topics such as accessibility, race, abortion, domestic violence, and sobriety/recovery through Genie’s perspective and slowly reveals more of Genie’s secrets, including what really happened the night of the accident.
VERDICT Fans of realistic fiction will find this a compelling and emotional story.

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