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Confessions of a Backup Dancer

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glamour. access. scandal.
Ever wonder what your favorite pop divas are like AFTER the cameras stop rolling? What do they do behind closed doors? What are their parties like? What do they think about? What do they fight about? What do they really want? And who do they REALLY hook up with?
Kelly Kimball spent a summer as a backup dancer for Darcy Barnes, the biggest pop star in the world. Kelly's got the real story on Darcy, her life, her family,...

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glamour. access. scandal.
Ever wonder what your favorite pop divas are like AFTER the cameras stop rolling? What do they do behind closed doors? What are their parties like? What do they think about? What do they fight about? What do they really want? And who do they REALLY hook up with?
Kelly Kimball spent a summer as a backup dancer for Darcy Barnes, the biggest pop star in the world. Kelly's got the real story on Darcy, her life, her family, and her entourage — and she's spilling it here for the first time. If you think the life of a superstar can't possibly be all it's cracked up to be, you're wrong. It's all that and more. And it's all inside Kelly's tell-all diary: Confessions of a Backup Dancer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The 17-year-old heroine of Shaw's (Flavor of the Week) rather flimsy novel primarily relays the story of her star-studded summer through "personal diary software," supplemented by e-mail and instant messages. Among her heroes is Darcy Barnes, whom she describes as "definitely the biggest pop star out there." Kelly is thrilled yet nervous when she lands a job as a backup dancer on Darcy's tour, during which she must contend with the mercurial pop diva, who declares Kelly her new best friend; the star's lecherous boyfriend, a high-profile VJ; and Darcy's controlling mother, who views Kelly as competition for her daughter and eventually fires the dancer. But readers sufficiently curious about the alleged behind-the-scenes life of a pop star to get caught up in the tale need not worry. After a stint dancing for Darcy's main teen idol competitor, Kelly rejoins Darcy's entourage. Though some kids will find the narrative grating, others will identify with Kelly's run-on teenspeak ("then she goes `do you have a boyfriend?' and I go no. she looked at me for a minute and I got kinda nervous so I said, `we just broke up last week,' which I totally made up just to fill the space"). The protagonist's affecting relationship with her younger brother, attending a correctional school after committing a felony, strikes a welcome realistic note to a novel that too often reads as an unsuccessful spoof. Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
The confessions are those of Kelly Kimball, a 17-year-old dance instructor with a dysfunctional family and a best friend who convinces her to try out for a new pop girl-band. Kelly does not make the cut for the band, but is offered a dream job as a backup dancer for a huge pop star. Told through journal entries, e-mails, news articles, and IMs, Confessions is a quick read. Kelly, renamed K.K. for the concert tour, is excited about the money and the chance to dance. What starts out as a dream gig quickly turns into a fight with the reality of life on the road with a pop star (Darcy), her overbearing mother (Darla) who hates Kelly, unfriendly and cliquish fellow dancers, and the press that follows it all. Kelly finds herself in the middle of Darcy and Darla, Darcy and her not-to-be-made-public boyfriend, Jesse Nixon (MTV VJ), and eventually Darcy and her rival pop star, Pashmina. There is an underlying story of Kelly's relationship with her troubled brother and her mother's impending divorce that adds to the stress that Kelly experiences. There is little character development that does not seem to fluctuate between what seems to be real and what might be fake depending on the motivation of the character, but that interpretation can be left up to the reader. Fans of any gossipy pop star/celebrity magazine will surely enjoy this book. With the lives of real pop stars seemingly newsworthy on a daily basis, the story is believable and readers will find themselves rooting for Kelly and her success as a dancer. There is some mature content and language, so this is recommended for older teens. Fans of the Gossip Girl series and stories told through the use of different mechanisms (e-mail,IM, diary, etc.) will find this book and share it with their friends. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2004, Simon & Schuster, 265p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Stephanie Squicciarini
Seventeen-year-old Kelly Kimball works at Beatz Beachside Dance Studio in San Diego and has taken dance lessons for "350 years" (actually twelve years). Via her personal diary software and e-mails to and from her best friend, Tito, Kelly relates the story of the summer of 2003 and her experiences as a backup dancer for a pop star. Since Kelly's father died eight years ago, her mother has been married twice and seems unable to navigate life without a man. Kelly lives with her fifteen-year-old brother, Evan, who is chronically in trouble with the law; her mother; her nasty stepfather, Carl; and his twin daughters, Staci and Traci. Kelly is close to her brother, worries about him, and tries to help Evan when she can. Kelly loves to dance and also sings well. Tito thinks she is a terrific dancer, and he encourages Kelly to try out for an all-girl pop group. After surviving a harrowing audition, Kelly is not selected but is tapped to be a backup dancer for Darcy Barnes, a pop star a la Britney Spears. Kelly's grueling rehearsal schedule and life on the road destroy any illusions that this life is one of glamour and riches. Popular culture references and Kelly's wit and candor keep the story fresh and real, while Shaw, author of Flavor of the Week (Hyperion, 2004/VOYA February 2004), creates plot twists to keep the reader guessing about the ending. Breezy and fun, this novel should appeal to older teens interested in dance. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P S (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Simon Pulse/S & S, 256p., pb. Ages 15 to 18.
—Rachelle Bilz
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Kelly Kimball, 17, is a talented dancer. When her best friend convinces her to attempt a Los Angeles audition, Kelly ultimately finds herself on a summer tour as a backup with pop princess Darcy Barnes, who soon views Kelly as her new best friend. Kelly works hard to be a top performer, which is difficult when she has to deal with Darcy's overbearing mother, Darla, who calls the shots; sensational media hype; the star's tendencies to smoke pot, drink too much, and sneak around with her boyfriend; and the pressures of the road. However, Kelly feels responsible for earning the money she knows her family needs. When Darla unjustly fires her, Kelly dances with a competitor's tour, until the diva has the guts to stand up to her mother, bring Kelly back into the show, and prove that she truly is her friend. The book is told through Kelly's "entries" into personal diary software, interspersed with instant messages and e-mails. The teen's lively character is realized through this creative format, and her voice rings clear and true. It is through that voice, complete with wry humor, realistic slang, and occasional coarse vernacular, that supporting characters and situations come to life. The purposeful grammatical errors simulating the way a "real" teen might write are mildly annoying. However, fans of Rachel Cohn's Pop Princess (S & S, 2004) and Sarra Manning's Guitar Girl (Dutton, 2004) will easily overlook them as they join Kelly on her travels and enjoy this backstage view of stardom.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689870750
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 6/1/2004
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,431,738
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

The author was raised in the Bay Area. She started her first media company at age eighteen while attending Long Beach State University. Soon after, she launched and sold a social networking site geared toward moms and began a social media agency, working with Fortune 500 companies. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, Mothering, and, where her satirical pieces on parenting and politics have often gone viral. In May 2012, she created Honest Toddler, a character based on her youngest child. She lives with her family outside of Montreal.

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Read an Excerpt

Thursday, May 23rd



Outfit: postman pants, black sleeveless tee with small but horrifying deodorant stain under left breast. (Was it there all day?)

Hair: a disaster. The roots aren't funny anymore.

Mood: distracted.

Fortune: Signs can lie. (I'm getting fortunes from this website tito told me about. They send a newsletter to my email every day along with like 35 ads but whatever, I like the fortunes.)

I was seriously bored at work today. Manning the front desk of Beatz Beachside Dance Studio in San Diego can be totally mind-numbing, especially when the only class going on is a seniors swing class in the far studio, studio C. Old people seniors, not high school seniors.

Anyway, I was reading some gossip online about Darcy Barnes and Jesse Nixon, the reigning teen king and queen of the pop universe (as seen on (M)TV!), and how they're supposedly secretly dating or something. the article said something about a house they'd bought together in the Hollywood Hills or one of those places. seems weird that they're dating even though they've known each other since they were like seven and on that Please Don't Do That on Television show or whatever it was called. I don't know if they're going out or not, but I guess it's kind of fun to think about. and I know one thing, if she's not dating him, she's a fool cause he is FINE.

I was so bored I read the article three times and was starting in on a fourth when the lovely Tito, my best friend in the universe who works at We Bop! the super-expensive tween boutique next door, threw open the front door and rescued me.

"hey girl!" he yelled. "look what I found in the back of the boutique! go try this on." he held out a baby tee with a cowboys and Indians scene on the front.

I go, "Tito I'm gonna look like a waitress at some goofy western-themed bar where the waitresses wear daisy dukes." Tito just goes, "Go try it on. it costs $85."

I was like, "what idiot spends $85 on a baby tee?" then I asked tito to watch the desk for a sec so I could go try it on. I ducked into this empty practice room, slipped off my sleeveless shirt, and pulled the new t-shirt over my head. with mirrors on three sides, I could see immediately that it fit perfectly.

perfectly, that is, if I was, for example, Darcy Barnes.

I mean, this t-shirt fit. Tight. My boobs never looked bigger. they weren't darcy barnes's size, of course, because all I got is a b-cup. ok, b-minus. ok, fine, I'm an a.

I stared at my reflection for a while, humming that old-school Darcy Barnes song "Love You Like a Lollipop," which happened to be drifting in from the lobby. swaying, watching my belly button swoop and drop and twist. it was riveting.

it took a moment before I realized I'd actually started doing the steps to "Lollipop," which I'd learned from watching the video about 400 million times. (I have the DVD, so sue me.) Anyway, before I knew it, I was totally going for it. my feet were racing, my head swinging, my hips shaking. the beat was constant but irregular...each verse had a bar where the tempo dropped, but I knew when those passages were coming and was ready for them. my body was cruising from beat to beat. I was becoming darcy herself.

I'd done it — I'd entered that zone you reach when you're dancing and you're completely consumed by the music, and your feet bypass your brain and carry your body weightlessly. That place where you stop thinking and start feeling. it doesn't happen every day, in fact it's pretty rare. I guess every dancer probably calls it something different. But Tito and I call it going THERE.

I was two bars away from the part in the video where the guy lifts darcy by one foot and tosses her into a backflip, and I realized I needed a guy. without warning, tito slipped in behind me. I never thought, "Where did he come from?" because Tito's just like that...always there when you need him. And THERE when I needed him. His hands came out, my foot went up, and I executed a flawless backflip.

Then, just like in the video, Tito faded into the background and I took the last few bars of the song solo. I spun, ground, whirled, and writhed, tito squealing the whole time. "WORK! WORK!"

I guess that means he liked it.

the music changed to some totally stupid Jewel song or something and tito and I went back into the lobby.

he goes, "that was flawless, Kel...seriously flawless. you are way better than any of those hooches in the darcy video."

tito is my total positive-feedback support-system best friend, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for him. but this fact sometimes makes me distrust comments like that. like, he's supposed to say that. he's my best friend, you know?

I go, "shut up! besides you could easily be one of the boys in the video. especially the one in the hockey jersey."

he goes shut up. he handed me a Twizzler and goes, "Listen Kelly I know I've got a lot to offer, but you're, like, on another level with the dancing. you're really GOOD. when you dance it feels so REAL. everyone's always talking about REALNESS all the time but you've got it." he goes, "Even Darcy Barnes is plastic. but you, Kelly Kimball are not. You're the real thing. REAL, girl!! Da real thang, G!!"

it cracks me up when tito gets all ghetto on me.

"Besides," he goes, "you're an aries and you were born in the year of the tiger. what do you expect? you're a BORN superstar. you need to believe that. do you believe it?" I was like whatever. and he goes, "No, not WHATEVER. do you believe it or not?"

the way he was staring at me, boring into my eyes, was almost freaky and it made me believe him for a second. I go, ok yes. I believe it!

without taking his eyes off of mine or even blinking, he goes, ok, I think we're ready.

I was like, ready for what?

he goes, "Kelly, that t-shirt I brought you is special. it's for your audition tomorrow." then he reached into his cargo pocket, pulled out a flyer, and handed it to me. "You're going to be famous. Stop one on the fame train is tomorrow."

I looked down at the flyer. on one side was a silhouette of a girl who was like jamming in front of a bunch of bright stage lights. her hair was flying, and she looked like she was going THERE, too.

I flipped it over.

How REAL are you?


Copyright © 2004 by 17th Street Productions, an Alloy company

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 5, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2011

    good book

    I love this book because of the story line. It can be kind of predictable. Definitely makes me relate to our pop stars of today.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is the absolute best book EVA! Although my 4th grade English is rolling over in his grave due to the butchering of grammar and syntax in this book 'God rest his soul'. The character development is primarily focused on KK Kimbell who drew me in from the first email chat convo and never let me go! This is the real dirt on Britney people, why look at her chonch on the web when you can read about it in this book! I read this with my girlfriend in bed and we did the voices and fell in love while reading it but lost control of the use of 'like' and now use terms like 'million billion dollars'. I recommend this for couples who are having marital problems.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2008

    um, it was alright

    some parts were good, but it was hard to get into, overall, It was just okay. I want to know who wrote it though!Some parts were good, but the overall book was okay.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    I LOOOVe this book it is my fav book of all time.i also read tuker shaw's ''Flavor of the week'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2006


    Okay so this book was absoluty amazing! My friend bought me this book for christmas last year and I loved it because it was about a dancer and I am a dancer and I love reading books about the thing I love most... dance. I am a very slow reader but I finished this book during a whole day of school. It was a very good book! Everyone should have the chance to read it. So good! I couldn't put it down!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2005

    An Amazing Book!

    I absolutely loved this book! It was great from beginning to end and you can really relate to the main character. I reccomend this for anyone that is a dancer or not!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2005

    Best book ever!!!

    I loved this book so much!!! It starts out slow but than it gets better and better. It is hard to put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2005

    Great Book!

    I really loved this book. It was an interesting way to describe the music business. At first I didn't think it would interest me, but the second I started reading it I was enticed by the plot

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2004


    man this book was soooooooo freakin good man.....i luved i agree wit every one about darcey bein britney and pashmina bein christina....and stuff this book is a MUST was so good..its the kinda book that NEEDS to be made into a movie..but must have an awsome director, producer,lighting,costume,set,sound,make-up,prop designers.......and real great actors would be helpful.....that can dance....that would also be nice....overall this is one of my favorite books i loved it i think it was really really was horribly good!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2004

    THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I loved this book it rocks so much I seriously loved it. My best friend and i are dancers and we call this book our bible!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2004


    this book was great.....i think darcey barnes is really britney spears....pashmina has to be christina aguliera.....everything lyke all of the lil detais in the book point 2 this..............

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2004


    I loved this book Every chapter makes you want to read more I cannot believe how good of a book this was this is the best book in the world

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2004


    Omigosh this book was so far out. I loved this book. Everyone who wants to become a star should read it. I wish there was a series. Man I loved it. It's BRILLIANT !!!!!!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2004

    Is It to Like, or Love? Read, you will be satisfied.

    This book has all that you need. The whole plot of the story is typical. Many books that are written for teens now are about fame and how it is not all it's cracked-up to be. Great, but getting a little OLD. By the way, I think it is a fun beach read!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2004

    Confessions of a Backup Dancer

    OK if you are taking a plane trip this summer, or sitting by the pool, or going to the beach, you NEED this book by your side. It's so funny. I snagged a copy from my friends house and I refuse to give it back. All the names are fake so you have to keep guessing who's who cause everyone in the book is based on someone famous. I think most of it is true but who knows. It's about Kelly Kimball this totally bored teenage girl working at a dance studio in San Diego who auditions for this big famous singer named Darcy Barnes (I think it's really Britney Spears) and goes with them on tour. You will not believe the stuff she finds out and the craziness she puts up with. She is so funny. You have to Get this book ASAP!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2004

    Confessions of a Backup Dancer

    omigod this book is so funny. its like funny and gossipy and totally makes me wonder who it's about. is it britney or christina or what? you have to get this book. i read it in like two days, because it moves sooo fast!! its got a great new lead character who could kick those gossipygirl's butts any day of the week! KELLY KIMBALL RULES! when is the movie coming out? I have to see it!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2004


    I Loved this book i read it in 4 dayz! i loved how it was like someones journal.... AWSOME BOOK!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Confessions of a Backup Dancer

    I picked up this book and couldnt put it down. Its an amazing behind-the-scenes story about a girl who becomes a backup dancer for a huge popstar. It's like all the best behind the scenes gossip... like a book version of celebrities uncensored or something. But it's also pretty real.. Kelly Kimball, the fake name of the girl in the book, has a lot of smart and snarky things to say about the pop life. If you love popstars, or if you HATE them, this is the book for you. You should read it with your friends so you can laugh about it together. You'll finish it FAST.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Confessions of a Backup Dancer

    THE BEST BOOK THIS SUMMER FOR SURE.......If you havent read this book yet, get your hands on a copy immediately. You are seriously NOT going to believe how crazy it is! I'm not sure if it's true or not but I read it in like two days and I was laughing hysterically. SO FUNNY... and SO true... is it really about Britney SPears or Christina Aguilera? all your friends are definitely going to be talking about this book so GET IT now!!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews

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