Much thanks to NetGalley and Charlesbridge Teen for this complimentary copy. This review is voluntary and opinions are fully my own. Also, all quotes are taken from the ARC and may be different in the final published copy.
Title: Becoming Beatriz
Author: Tami Charles
Date Published: September 17, 2019
Number of Pages: 272
Publisher: Charlesbridge Teen
“Sometimes all it takes is a spark, a memory, to crash into us, remind us of the what-ifs unleash what simmers beneath the deep, awaken the ghost, and give dreams a second chance.”
📚 Series: No. But it is a companion novel to Like Vanessa.
📚 Genre: YA “Historical” Fiction
📚 POV: First.
📚 Cliffhanger: No.
⚠ Content Warnings: Gangs. Drugs. Death. Homophobia. Abuse.
⚠ Read if: you’re looking for books to read this Latinx Heritage Month
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, when you click on the link and make a purchase.
Book Blurb from Goodreads
Beatriz dreams of a life spent dancing–until tragedy on the day of her quinceañera changes everything.
Up until her fifteenth birthday, the most important thing in the world to Beatriz Mendez had been her dream of becoming a professional dancer and getting herself and her family far from the gang life that defined their days–that and meeting her dance idol Debbie Allen on the set of her favorite TV show, Fame. But after the latest battle in a constant turf war leaves her gang leader brother, Junito, dead and her mother grieving, Beatriz has a new set of priorities. How is she supposed to feel the rhythm when her gang needs running, when her mami can’t brush her own teeth, and when the last thing she can remember of her old self is dancing with her brother, followed by running and gunshots? When the class brainiac reminds Beatriz of her love of the dance floor, her banished dreams sneak back in. Now the only question is: will the gang let her go?
Set in New Jersey in 1984, Beatriz’s story is a timeless one of a teenager’s navigation of romance, gang culture, and her own family’s hard past. A companion novel to the much-lauded Like Vanessa.
I grabbed Becoming Beatriz because of the cover, as usual, I have to admit. But it is also because I was curious about the blurb.
As this is my first book from the author, I was a little unsure about what to expect.
This story revolves around Beatriz and how she is dealing with the recent gang-related death of her brother, Junito. She is struggling in school, in remaining as a part of the gang, in keeping on her drug deals, and in pursuing her passion of dancing (or not).
Story wise, the book has delivered a good one in some parts, and an uninteresting one in others. Personally, I didn’t feel any connection to Beatriz. I don’t know if the problem was with me or how she was written as a character.
The story was supposedly set in the 1980s but there weren’t really any relatable things aside from Fame the show and the blatant mentioning of the dates.
With regards to the use of Spanish for many dialogues, it would have been better if there are footnotes for non-native speakers, since most are not translated for us. I’m a Filipino and there are some Spanish words mixed in our language, so at least I understood some.
The romance sub-plot gave a breath of fresh air in the book. It’s quite cute as a part of the story.
The description of dance needed a little work. I know it is really hard to translate movement into a novel, but I think this part was way too lacking to give readers a deeper image of what’s happening.
The author’s note at the end is touching and has redeemed the book to me, in a way.
All in all, I guess, this book has a lot of potential, but it did not capture me the way I wish it did.
My Book Rating Breakdown
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Significant Other: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
☁FINAL VERDICT: 3.09/5 ☁
Do you have Latinx book recommendations?
Tell me in the comments!