Summer is here and Mango Delight Fuller (12) is ready for bingeing TV shows with her mom, enjoying her Dada's cooking, taking care of her baby brother, and spending time with her BFF Izzy. Then fate gave her another option: reprising her role as Juliet in the musical Yo, Romeo! Except this time it wouldn't be at Trueheart Middle School, it would be in New York City! The teachers who produced the play are taking it to Off, Off, Off Broadway and they want Mango to be their star.
It isn't long before Mango realizes she has a lot to learn about living in the big city and life in show business. First, TJ, her original costar as Romeo, is replaced by teen idol Gabriel Faust. Next, Zippy (the director's sister) who is supposed to escort her to and from her Aunt Zendaya's apartment) abandons her on the subway. And last but not least, her friendship with Izzy is getting a bit rocky.
Exceptional! There is a lot to love about Summer in the City, starting with Mango! She has a voice that will resonate with Tweens - even those who don't dream of being the next Disney star. The ensemble around her is equally strong, and I particularly like the Fuller family dynamics, including Aunt Zendaya. Readers will relate to the ups and downs in Mango's relationship with Izzy - from BOTH sides, not just Mango's.
My quibbles with the book is that it is a bit too Disney-ish. Faust is a stereotypical movie star diva; Zippy is basically an evil stepsister (who doesn't get her comeuppance); and Hailey Joanne is a bit too much of the over-the-top rich kid. The story feels fresh and original until about halfway through, and then glimpses of "this reminds me of X show on Disney" started creeping in.
Bottom line: highly recommended for a light, fun, read. The plot is well paced and the characters likeable enough to keep young readers turning the page to learn more about them.
Whether they dream of singing on Broadway or not, preteen girls will see themselves in Mango. Readers looking for a diverse cast and a family-positive story will not want to miss this gem.
This is a middle grade novel about a young girl figuring out the way to pursue her dreams.
Mostly this is a book to read for fun. It is a character-driven story, so the logical discussion points center on relationships and personalities. Izzy and Mango's friendship is an easy one, but there is also Zippy's relationship to her brother, as well as her treatment of Mango; Aunt Zendaya's relationship with her sister (Mango's mom); and the personalities of the two stars, Gabriel Faust and Destiny Manaconda.
11 and Up
12 and Up
Borrow, for sure. If you're thinking of this as a gift, buy both books in the series!