I didn’t read this one before.
Jessi gets accepted into a special dance program at Dance New York, which is some famous (fictional?) ballet company and school. There’s a youth program where kids spend a few weeks at the school with guidance from famous instructors. Since the school doesn’t have dorms, Jessi ends up staying with her cousin Michael (Aunt Cecilia’s son) and his wife in Brooklyn. On the first day, she runs into Quint, who she’d apparently lost touch with after they decided to just be friends. He’s over his embarrassment about being a male dancer, and is excited to be in the program. He introduces Jessi to his friend Maritza, and they become fast friends.
Jessi loves the program and being in New York. At first she thinks she’s doing horribly, because she gets a lot of corrections from the instructor. But, of course, everyone does and she just didn’t realize it. After a few days, the instructor tells her she’s totally the most awesome dancer ever, even though she’s one of the youngest in the program (it’s ages 11-13). This makes sense since Jessi’s in the BSC, which means she has to be the best at whatever her hobby is, and win every contest/audition she enters. Outside of dancing, she hangs out a lot with Maritza and her friends (non-ballet ones) and has a lot of fun. She ends up staying in NY on all her weekends because she’s got so much going on.
One minor complication is Quint. At first Jessi thinks he and Maritza are a couple, but Maritza tells her they’re not, and that Quint still likes her. Then Jessi’s worried that Quint wants them to be a couple again, but she’s still not ready for a boyfriend, even if it’s no longer long-distance. She obsesses about how to tell him, but finally does and he’s cool with being friends and waiting for her.
After three weeks, most of the other students have been asked to stay for another 3 weeks, but not Jessi. She’s obviously disappointed about this. Then after their final performance for their families, the main teacher tells Jessi’s parents that he wants her to audition for the school’s full-time dance program. And by audition, he means she’s basically already in, but has to perform for other teachers to make it official. She does and gets the invitation. But, she decides she’s still young, and that she’s not really ready to leave home and lose her current friends. But she’s told the invitation will still be there down the line. Because that’s realistic.
The subplot’s about Becca and how she’s upset that Jessi left for so long. So, she acts like a total brat when Mallory sits for her. The day Jessi’s originally supposed to come home, Becca stays at the Pike’s while the Ramsey’s go to New York for the performance. They decide to plan a welcome home party for Jessi. Only Jessi doesn’t come home that night, because she’s staying an extra day for the audition, and the party is a bit of a bust. Aunt Cecelia had called the Pike’s to say they were arriving back in Stoneybrook late and without Jessi, but unfortunately she talked to Claire. Who didn’t repeat this to anyone because she didn’t think it was news… everyone knew they were arriving in the evening, and that’s late. This is why Aunt Cecelia should have asked to talk to someone over the age of 5.
- Usually, Jessi’s ballet plots make me think of when I took ballet as a kid. But this one reminded me of Center Stage.
- When they first get to Michael’s apartment in the city, they have to park 3 blocks away. Which, is typical. But this means they have to walk all the way back with 2 suitcases. Why not double park for 30 seconds or something, then have someone get out and wait with suitcases while Mr. Ramsey parks?
- Claudia outfit: “She was wearing a leopard-skin jumpsuit with a black silk shirt tied at the waist with leather stripes; black, steel tipped combat boots; and rhinestone-studded cat’s eye-glasses perched on her head.” Somehow on Claudia this looks, “right.” Of course it did.
- Fun fact: Aunt Cecelia’s last name is Parker.
- Jessi invites Mallory to visit one weekend. Except, she then invites all their new friends along. Which, seems kind of annoying. But, she and Mal do get some alone time to catch up later on.
- Jessi’s a little obnoxious when Mal visits as well. When Michael orders food in, Mallory seems surprised at the selection that they have. Jessi’s all “In New York, everyone delivers not just pizza places.” Then when Mallory realizes she forgot her toothbrush (late at night), Jessi says how Michael will go to the store, because some “places are open 24 hours in NYC.”
- Becca’s miserable for 3 weeks while Jessi’s away. So, why do her parents leave her at home when they go to the final performance? I don’t think it would have been a big deal to take her out of school a little earlier if that was the issue.
- If you’re wondering how Jessi can skip school for 3 weeks, the program includes time with tutors to keep the kids up to date with school stuff.
- I’m trying to figure out how the BSC had time to plan their welcome home party. They get the idea late in the afternoon, and talk about it at the club meeting. After the meeting ends, they have time to go to the store, make a banner, make 2 batches of cookies, and get pizza delivered, and have it all done by 7:00. That seems like it would take more than an hour, but I guess if they had enough people helping it’s possible.
- Other than the BSC and the Pikes (since it’s at their house) the girls invite Charlotte, Haley, and Natalie Springer to the party. I get the first two cause they’re friends with Vanessa and Becca. But Natalie? Isn’t she from the Little Sister books? How did she get into the mix?
- At a meeting, someone asks Jessi if she’s come home to visit on weekends, and Claudia’s all, “No, why would she? She’ll be going to clubs, parties, etc.” And Jessi’s just thinking, WTF? Although not in those words, cause this is the BSC.
- Jessi mentions how she likes Maritza’s friends, because it’s the first time in a while that she’s been in a room with all African American friends. And that it’s “refreshing.”
- So, Cecelia and Michael don’t really get along. The reason’s a bit surprising. He used to be into art, but ended up getting a job in some financial-related field. And Cecelia’s upset that he didn’t follow his dream. Which is kind of sweet, because I would expect Cecilia to be all about having a backup career in mind to be practical. But not sweet because she lets that ruin their relationship.
- Jessi somehow inspired Michael to start painting again, so maybe the riff will be cleared up.
- Cecelia’s also really supportive of Jessi’s dancing in this book (even though, she thinks Jessi’s too young to be going to NYC alone).
- Michael says that if Jessi did join the full time program, she could stay with him and his wife (who are in their late 20s). Which is really, really nice of him. Especially since he barely knew Jessi before and doesn’t seem to get along well with his mother.
- When Mallory arrives, Jessi realized she hadn’t even mentioned the BSC to any of her new dancer friends. That’s a sign of her priorities.
- Maritza tells Jessi that she was “chewing the scenery” with her friends (she means this in a nice way though), and that she’s a born leader because she got the other kids to make a video of themselves performing various skits/jokes/whatever. It reminds me of the Jessi we saw in that practical joke book.
- This is the last Jessi book, even though there are a good 15 books written after it in the series.
- It kinds of sucks for Jessi, because after she chooses to stay in Stoneybrook because of her family and friends, her best friend leaves for boarding school.