SHANNON IN THE SPOTLIGHT, by Kalena Miller, Delacorte Press, April 25, 2023, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10 and up)
A girl with OCD accidentally lands a leading role in the summer musical in Shannon in the Spotlight, a middle-grade novel by Kalena Miller.
Shannon Carter never considered herself much of a theater person. Not like her two BFFs, Elise, an actress, and Fatima, a techie. Shannon’s always been content to stay backstage, helping wherever she can. But when the director of the summer musical hears Shannon singing, he encourages her to step out of the wings and into the spotlight.
At first, Shannon is hesitant. As a twelve-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder, she depends on routine. But when she braves the audition, she discovers that center stage is the one place where she doesn’t feel anxious. She lands a lead role, and everyone in her life is ecstatic . . . except Elise.
To make matters worse, Shannon’s eccentric and opinionated grandmother moves in with her and her mom after a fluke house fire. As opening night approaches, Shannon feels pressure to save her friendship with Elise, to make Mom and Grandma Ruby act like grown-ups, and to follow the old theater adage “The show must go on.” —Synopsis provided by Delacorte Press
Shannon in the Spotlight is one of those novels that has moments that might annoy or frustrate readers, but there’s a good reason for those moments. The book is OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) heavy. Like you’re never allowed to forget about it. That’s the point, though, Shannon has to deal with it all the time. It’s her life.
Author Kalen Miller has OCD in real life, and her experiences translate directly to the page. Readers are left with no question as to what life with OCD looks like.
But Shannon’s story is so much more than her disorder. It’s her talent, her family and her friends. As Miller explores each of these aspects, readers gain a look at the broader picture. It makes for a richer experience overall, and it’s nice to see supporting characters work through their issues as well.
Shannon in the Spotlight is a fine, contemporary novel with broad appeal.
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