Kat’s got all the ingredients to go all the way. But she fails her exams-on purpose-to avoid the pressure of the top classes. She kills it in soccer, but never trials for the rep teams. She’s happy to fly under the radar, unlike her oh-so-perfect Wonder Brother. But this year things are shifting. Not least in her friendships. Lavinia has defected to none other than The Triad of She-Wolves, but Kat’s gained the new girl, the Goth, and after tutoring Bayani’s brother, a boyfriend! When secrets are revealed and loyalties are tested, Kat discovers that it is time for her to step up… and shine!
I really enjoyed Step Up, Shine On! – so much, in fact, that I read it in a single day. It’s a lovely coming of age-ish story which I would recommend in particular for readers sitting at the crossover of middlegrade and YA. Throughout the book Kat is figuring out how she fits in her family, as well as where she fits in the world. I really love these books where there is some shifting of how the protagonist sees their home/school life – whether its realising that their parents are humans and fallible, and they can have different views on issues to the rest of their family, or forming new friendships at school on account of really connecting with people rather than just because they sit together in class. I feel like there is something so empowering and relatable in these themes that always resonates with me, and I think they are tackled really well throughout this book.
The story is told in a first person POV, which I often find can be a bit grating, but in Kat’s case I think it worked really well, and I liked the intimacy it added to the story. It gives great insight to how Kat is feeling, which I especially appreciated when there was an internet bullying incident, and also there was something charming in the way we see Kat’s parents through her eyes – I got the sense of her rolling her eyes at them, while still loving them fiercely.
Another thing I really enjoyed about this story was that there was more than one family where the parents had immigrated to Australia, and we got to see that there were both similarities and differences in their experiences, and their children’s experiences. I think it is great to draw young readers attention to the fact that there are lots of different immigrant experiences, and that it’s important to also have lots of different people’s stories told. I also think it is cool that, even if their families are different from Kat’s or Bayani’s, there are also a lot of things they have in common.
I know I touched on this above, but perhaps my favourite part of this book was seeing Kat’s growing sense of self, especially in terms of school. I thought it was really cool to see her realise she didn’t have to stay friends with people with they didn’t make her feel good about herself, and to develop new friendships that were more positive. I actually found this quite moving and I was proud of Kat and her friends!
Step Up, Shine On! is published by Scholastic Australia, so you can find it in your Scholastic Book Club catalogue, as well as in book stores.
I’l love to know if you’re planning to pick this one up!
Step Up, Shine On! by Angela May George
Out now from Scholastic Australia
Source: Copy kindly sent to me by the team at Scholastic Australia (thank you!). All views are my own.
Themes: Family, friendships, bullying, finding yourself
Format: Paperback (204 pages)