The Queen Bee of Bridgeton by Leslie DuBois
Publisher: Little Prince Publishing
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Release Date: May 17, 2011
Release Date: Undetermined (currently listed as May 2, 2011 on Amazon)
Summary (from Good Reads): When fifteen-year-old Sonya Garrison is accepted into the prestigious Bridgeton Academy, she soon discovers that rich girls are just as dangerous as the thugs in her home of Venton Heights. Maybe more so. After catching the eye of the star, white basketball player and unwittingly becoming the most popular girl in school, she earns the hatred of the three most ruthless and vindictive girls at Bridgeton. Can she defeat the reigning high school royalty? Or will they succeed in ruining her lifelong dream of becoming a world class dancer?
When I saw The Queen Bee of Bridgeton, it was love at first sight. I fell in love with the cover before I even started reading. And then I started reading, and I fell even more in love with this novel. And to give you a heads-up now: This is probably going to be one of my longer reviews.
Three things I loved about this novel:
1. It’s not about the rich girl who gets whatever she wants, except for maybe the guy she actually likes or the car she wants. To clarify: As much as I enjoy novels about rich girls, like Gossip Girl and the Pretty Little Liars series, I like novels about the regular, middle- and lower-class girls more.
2. I like it that it’s told from a black girl’s perspective. Most of the novels I read are told from a white character’s perspective, and as much as I enjoy those novels, it’s nice to read something that’s not about someone who is the same ethnicity as myself.
3. Speaking of ethnicity, I loved it that the concept of not being black enough for black people but too black for white people showed up in this novel. It actually reminded me of the movie Selena, when Selena’s dad talks about having to be Hispanic enough for the Hispanics, but white enough for white people, and how it’s a really fine line and a difficult thing to achieve. I’ve never seen this concept discussed in a novel other than The Queen Bee of Bridgeton, and I think it’s an incredibly important issue. Race in general is an incredibly important issue, so I’m glad it’s in the novel, and I think DuBois did a great job with exploring different ideas when it comes to race.
Aside from those things, there are so many things to love about this novel. Though it tackles some serious issues, it’s not without humor. I can’t possibly write down every sentence that made me laugh, because there are too many, but there were moments where I was definitely cracking up.
The writing is amazing, and there is one sentence in particular that I absolutely have to quote: “To see her dance was like having an exquisite ocean wave of loveliness pound against the walls of my heart” (page 36). I read that, and it blew me away. It is easily the best simile I have read in a long time. It’s one of those sentences that resonates so well with me because that is exactly how I feel when I listen to certain songs and read certain poems. Later, Sonya, the narrator, also says that she dances because she can’t not dance. She describes it as a stream of life-giving water that nourishes her soul. Her friend/crush Will says that he feels the same way about basketball. That resonated with me as well, because that’s how I feel about reading, writing, and running. I love it that I can relate to this novel in some way, even though Sonya and I are completely different in so many ways.
I adore Sonya. I wanted things to work out for her. I wanted her to get everything she wanted. My heart ached for her in places. I was happy and excited for her in other places. And the ending of the novel? It made me cry. . . . And that is something that rarely happens when I read. The Queen Bee of Bridgeton is now one of my favorite novels. Reading it is a huge emotional investment. It’s beautiful, serious, funny, sad, happy. It’s everything I want in a novel.
Overall rating: 5/5
Cover rating: 5/5