Mari (short for Marisol) achieves her dream of getting into the dance program at Premiere High School, a special school for performing arts, but quickly discovers that she won’t be able to rest on her laurels. It will take a lot of hard work to stay at Premiere, and even more work to win a dance competition that would land her a role in a movie. Still, all of that is nothing compared to how hard she’ll have to fight to win over her parents’ and old friends’ support as she pursues her passion.
Mari is not the only one struggling at Premiere. At her orientation to the school, she bumps into Drew, a hot guy who she hopes will become a friend, or maybe even more. However, Drew is having a hard time of his own. In order to attend Premiere and develop his acting skills, he had to give up on basketball, a sport that could have earned him a spot in a top notch college. His old friends and his father are less than enthusiastic about his decision, and Drew has to decide what he really wants to do with his life.
Monica McKayhan’s Ambitious may be a great book for struggling readers, but it was not the right book for me. It came across as a dumbed down version of Fame combined with Save the Last Dance. The writing felt oversimplified and fragmented, which was not helped by the multiple narrative perspectives, and things were often spelled out a little too much. For a short book, Ambitious packed in a lot of plot lines, taking a basic look at several story elements without really fleshing any of them out completely. The book has some interesting things to say about performing, identity, race, gangs, and other topics, but I would have liked to see it explore just a couple things in a lot more depth. Ambitious is the first in a new series of Premiere High novels; unfortunately, I can’t say I see myself picking up any of the others.