CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 22. . . . February 9, 2018
In a continuation of the Billboard Express storyline, Elle Adams, a budding musician and singer, is opening for Johnny James on her first major tour. It is not long before the pressure of performing begins to strain Elle’s voice and her stamina. Despite the support of her coworkers, Elle struggles on her own. She grapples with her image, her need to be authentic, her desire to please others, and her relationship with her business focused father. Concerned for Elle, her close friend, Webb, checks in on her and begins offering her some companionship and advice. Despite the confusion she is experiencing, Elle begins to develop romantic feelings for Webb and, with his help, she begins to gain some confidence in her abilities.
Crafted as a work for reluctant readers, True Blue contains high interest themes for teens with a simple pace and uncomplicated language. Unfortunately, this also greatly limits the depth and texture of the characters and the plot. Characters are rather flat, relying on stereotypical characterizations of the music industry. While pointing to the problems of sexism, parent child power struggles, and issues with body image, there are a number of missed opportunities where these themes could be explored with greater depth.
True Blue may complement collections that already possess a strong core of materials for reluctant readers, but there are better works available for smaller collections with a more limited selection of high interest low reading level books.
Recommended with Reservations.
Christina Neigel is an Associate Professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, BC. She is also completing a doctorate in Education at Simon Fraser University.