Dear Ms. Winston,
After finishing The Kayla Chronicles and Girl Overboard, I came to the conclusion that I need to read more young adult novels featuring non-Caucasian protagonists. It’s not something I’d given much thought to previously, but I now realize my reading habits have been lacking.
Kayla Dean considers herself a junior feminist and a future journalist. Egged on by her best friend, Rosalie, she plans to write an exposé about the Lady Lions dance team. Rosalie believes the Lady Lions discriminate against aspiring dancers with small breasts. Kayla is both small-breasted and a talented dancer, so if she doesn’t make the team, then their bias will be confirmed and Kayla will have her controversial article. Unfortunately, neither gets their wish because Kayla makes the team.
What I enjoyed most was how becoming a Lady Lion challenged Kayla’s views on feminism. Just because you become a dancer doesn’t mean you can’t be a strong woman at the same time. Being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t love cute shoes or you can’t be pretty.
When Kayla made the Lady Lions, I was a little worried we might go down the makeover route, especially since the jacket copy implies that’s exactly what happens. I’ve mentioned before that those storylines try my patience because I often don’t understand why the protagonist has to become the class hottie when she was perfectly fine beforehand. Thankfully, there is none of that here. While Kayla does have a “makeover”, it’s nothing as extreme as you often encounter in other books and movies. In fact, it remains true and consistent with Kayla’s beliefs and character.
Her friendship with Rosalie made me wince in sympathy. Rosalie is the type of person who has a larger than life personality and often railroads people into sharing her point of view. I think that’s something many teen girls can identify with — the desire to follow someone strong but then realizing it’s at the expense of your own beliefs. I loved how Kayla grows from being a follower to thinking for herself. Rosalie is as much a feminist as Kayla but because their personalities are different, the girls are like night and day.
Rosalie clings to the belief that the Lady Lions are big-breasted airheads and are a bad influence on Kayla and their brand of feminism, but Kayla learns that this isn’t the case. The various members of the dance team are strong, smart girls with their own personal belief systems, and it helps illustrate the point that sometimes as women, we can be each other’s worst enemy.
Told in a voice with the right amount of attitude and sass, this was a nice way to spend a cold, winter afternoon. B
This book can be purchased in hardcover. No ebook format I could find.