Title: Dara Palmer's Major Drama
Author: Emma Shevah
Summary: Horrors! Dara Palmer, in spite of being clearly destined for stardom, has been passed over for the part of Maria in the school production of The Sound of Music. How could they?! Is it because she doesn't look right? Is it because the drama teacher hates her? Well, no matter. Dara Palmer is going to be a star one way or the other.
First Impressions: This was a delightful stew of serious topics like adoption and identity and the loss of friends, blended with Dara's hyperdramatic and hilarious tone. It just went together so nicely.
Later On: Dara was adopted from Cambodia, and feels decidedly out of place in her family. Both her siblings are white (one adopted from Russia, one the biological child of their white British parents) and she feels like she sticks out wherever she goes, especially since she knows very little about the country where she was born. At the same time, she's conflicted over whether to probe more into Cambodia and her own past, feeling disloyal to her parents. And of course, at the same time she's being your typical tween girl, obsessed with her acting dreams, school, and friends.
It can be hard to like Dara at first. She's vain, self-centered, and severely lacking in self-awareness. (In other words, she's a pretty typical girl of her age.)
But she's also completely hilarious, and it's her slow awakening to the inner lives of others and her acknowledgement of her own complex and evolving identity that will win you over. And I love that this isn't a story solely about being adopted. Dara's struggles and triumphs are multi-faceted, just like her.
More: Waking Brain Cells
Ms Yingling Reads