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Becoming Beatriz (sequel to Like Vanessa)

By: Tami Charles
Recommended for grade(s): 8, 9

Beatriz dreams of a life spent dancing–until tragedy on the day of her quinceanera changes everything. Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez was her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days–that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her brother’s gang needs running, when her mami can’t brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go? Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz’s story is a timeless one of a teenager’s navigation of romance, her brother’s choices, and her own family’s difficult past.   –Froom Charlesbridge

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