April 3, 2013

BSC #115, Jessi’s Big Break: So They Think She Can Dance

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 6:17 pm by Jenn

If "Center Stage" taught me anything, it's that these kids are way too happy

If “Center Stage” taught me anything, it’s that these kids are way too happy

Summary: Jessi spends a few weeks in New York, dancing with an elite program that could springboard her to superstar status. She stays with her cousin Michael (Aunt Cecelia’s son) and his wife, who remind her how awesome New York is, in case someone in this series hasn’t mentioned that in the past five minutes. The dance classes are wonderful, Jessi makes a ton of friends, and she feels independent and grown-up in the city.

Back home, Mallory and Becca are lonely and mopey. Mal is at least mature enough not to whine, but Becca is a brat, and I can’t believe her parents (and Cecelia) put up with her attitude. Mal goes to visit Jessi one weekend and feels out of place since Jessi’s New York friends are all dancers. Also, because Jessi’s so busy with classes and taking in the culture of the city, she doesn’t call home very often.

Jessi’s only problem in New York is Quint, her sort-of boyfriend. He keeps wanting to talk to her, and she’s afraid he’s going to tell her he wants to date. She doesn’t feel ready, so she keeps putting off The Talk. Eventually, though, she tells Quint that she likes him and can see herself dating him, but not until they’re older. He’s fine with it and things between them relax.

So now that Jessi’s New York experience is completely awesome, she gets some good news: David Brailsford, the director of the program, wants her to apply for another program, one that will keep her in New York permanently. It’s a real honor, but it means leaving her family and friends, and dancing even more than she already is.

As much as Jessi immediately wants to say yes, she does some really mature thinking about the situation. She worries that she’ll get bored after the freshness of being in New York wears off, and that she’ll run herself into the ground by dancing so much. She won’t have time for anything else in her life. Plus, of course, she’ll be away from her family and friends.

Jessi’s parents are supportive of whatever she chooses to do, and surprisingly, Aunt Cecelia is her biggest champion. She regrets not following her dreams when she was younger. She’s even disappointed in Michael for giving up a potentially successful art career to attend business school. Ultimately, Jessi decides to defer the decision until she’s older, and use the time before then to learn even more in Stoneybrook. She’ll get to live her normal life while still finding a way to follow her dream. Not bad for an 11-year-old. I don’t even know how to snark on that!

Thoughts: Aunt Cecelia encouraging people to follow their dreams seems out of character to me. The Cecelia we’ve seen so far strikes me as the sort of person who would want her son to go to business school and do something practical instead of hoping to make money painting.

At the beginning of the book, Jessi learns she’s in the program and then has to convince her parents to let her go. So why did they let her audition if they hadn’t yet decided whether to let her go if she got in?

If I’d talked to anyone the way Becca does in this book, I would still be grounded today. But no one says a word to her! They’re just all, “Oh, she’s upset because Jessi’s gone.” Yeah, but she can be upset with her mouth closed.

Quint is five-eight at the age of 11? Holy cow.

All the ballet terminology thrown together makes me think of “steppity-step and jazz hands.” (Bonus: The other actor in that scene is Principal Green from Dawson’s Creek.)

Mallory writes in the BSC journal, “Several of the children were pretty difficult.” That girl is 11 going on 40.

Brailsford: “You’re one of us now.” Run, Jessi! He’s a cult leader!

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3 Comments »

  1. bscag said,

    Becca gets so annoying when things don’t go her way. She reminds me of people I know in real life who get pissed and jealous when something good happens to another person because it’s not fair, as if there’s only so much happiness to go around and if you’re happy that means I can’t be. Like the people who get mad at you because you mention in a non-bragging way that you get to go on a trip next weekend.

    • Jenn said,

      I just wish someone had sat her down and said, “Look, I know you’re upset, but Jessi will come back. She’s your sister, she’ll always be your sister, she’ll always love you, and this doesn’t mean she’s abandoning you. Now chill out and zip your lip.”

  2. Shantel said,

    “Aunt Cecelia encouraging people to follow their dreams seems out of character to me. The Cecelia we’ve seen so far strikes me as the sort of person who would want her son to go to business school and do something practical instead of hoping to make money painting.”

    I believe you’re right. I imagine Cecelia thinking art for a hobby is fine but a person needs a job with steady income and a artist selling his artwork is taking a big risk he won’t bring in enough money to live on.


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