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Becoming Beatriz

by Tami Charles

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313658,926 (3.1)None
"A compelling read about the quest for fame!" "A compelling read about the quest for fame!" -Debbie Allen, star of Fame "Redemption is a heartbeat away." -Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of the Pura Belpre Award winner Under the Mesquite 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. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
Literary Merit: Fine
Characterization: Okay
Recommend: Not really
Level: High school

I love dance so any book that shows its power to connect and inspire I want to read. Beatriz leaves dance after losing her brother to gang violence and instead steps up to take a larger role in her gang's drug deals at school. It isn't until a new student convinces her to return to dancing that she starts putting herself first again. The books shows conflicts between identity and responsibilities and peer pressure. It touches on these very tricky topics but I wish it gave more context for why Beatriz is unable to pull away from the gang and its illegal activity on her own. I found myself frustrated with her more than I wanted to be since the book led me to reasons that included her family and grief but didn't explore them in a way that felt fully believable and real to me. The ending likewise seemed to wrap up too quickly with either things tied up too easily or questions left unanswered (like the big twist that was barely touched on again and she never really dealt with). This book had a lot of potential and I still enjoyed the story but it felt too short and under-realized. I wanted more from the characters' backstories and motivations. It felt too much like I was being told to accept their behavior instead of being shown why. However, the relationships were good and of course I enjoyed the descriptions of the dancing. ( )
  SWONroyal | Oct 20, 2020 |
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Becoming Beatriz is the story of Beatriz Mendez, who is traumatized by her brother’s death and struggles with realizing her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting out of the gang life while also remaining true to her brother’s memory and legacy. There are A LOT of issues to unpack in this novel, and because it’s fairly short and full of important things that should be talked about, I feel like a lot of stuff was glossed over, which made it feel like there just wasn’t enough focus to it.

However, I really liked Beatriz and was right there with her, frustrated for her being in the circumstances she was in, and wanting her and her family to succeed. I appreciated that she was able to learn from her brother’s mistakes as well as her past and that dance lifted her up to find courage to start saying away from her life in the gang. As someone who danced in high school, it was wonderful to read a description of how dance can take you away.

All in all, this is a decent read. Some of the pacing was off and I wish more of the characters were fully developed, but the plot whizzes by with conflict after conflict, which makes for an engaging read.

Also posted on Purple People Readers. ( )
  sedelia | Mar 22, 2020 |
After Beatriz's brother is killed in a drive-by shooting by a Haitian gang, it's up to her and DQ to keep the Diablos together and their drug sales active. Academics is an afterthought and the dancing she loved so much is in her past. But Nasser, a handsome new face at school, intrigues Beatriz and awakens her old passion for dance, especially when there is the opportunity to audition for her favorite TV show "Fame." These new interests threaten the stability of the gang but maybe Beatriz isn't so interested in gang life anymore. Definitely has the urban 1980s vibe going on. ( )
  Salsabrarian | Feb 15, 2020 |
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"A compelling read about the quest for fame!" "A compelling read about the quest for fame!" -Debbie Allen, star of Fame "Redemption is a heartbeat away." -Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of the Pura Belpre Award winner Under the Mesquite 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. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.

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