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by Alex Flinn

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In Diva, the companion to Alex Flinn’s YA novel Breathing Under Water, Caitlin is dealing with a lot. She’s living through the aftermath of an abusive relationship, she has a youth-obsessed mother who just doesn’t understand her, and she’s on a constant yo-yo diet to live up the standards of her nitpicking friends.


In Diva, the companion to Alex Flinn’s YA novel Breathing Under Water, Caitlin is dealing with a lot. She’s living through the aftermath of an abusive relationship, she has a youth-obsessed mother who just doesn’t understand her, and she’s on a constant yo-yo diet to live up the standards of her nitpicking friends.
All Caitlin wants is to escape her not-so-glamorous life and pursue her dream of becoming a singer, but when she’s accepted into the Miami High School of the Arts, her life doesn’t magically become perfect. Yet despite some struggles to keep up with her competitive classmates and the distraction of cute new crush, Caitlin never loses her sense of humor and eventually gains the confidence to achieve her goals.
Perfect for fans of such books as Carolyn Mackler’s The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Several shades lighter than Alex Flinn's Breathing Underwater, the sequel, Diva, traces a new chapter in 16-year-old Caitlin McCourt's life. After she breaks up with her abusive boyfriend, Caitlin enrolls in the Miami High School of the Arts, where she wants nothing more than to become an opera-singing diva. Her struggle to regain trust in people (mainly teenage boys and her mother) is as convincing and captivating as her journey to realize her dream. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Carlisle Kraft Webber
There is more to being a diva than wearing a T-shirt with sparkles. You need drive and vocal talent. Caitlin-who can nail the C above high C-admires the real divas of the world, such as Maria Callas. She wants a career in opera and secretly auditions for the Miami High School of the Arts. Her audition, though, does not just come as the result of wanting to join the ranks of Joan Sutherland. Ex-boyfriend Nick, who was abusive, still attends her current high school. Caitlin's "friends" don't understand her love of opera. Makeup and weight loss seem to be the only things that her mother cares about. A change of environment would not only help Caitlin further her dream of singing professionally, but it also might just give her a place where she can belong, make real friends, and definitely not think about Nick. But first, she has to survive dance class. Flinn, a trained coloratura soprano, gives Caitlin the opportunity to use all the determination she has in her singing to overcome her obstacles, even making parallels between operas and Caitlin's life. This sequel to Breathing Underwater (HarperCollins, 2001/VOYA June 2001) can stand alone. There are many themes in this book, including family relations, friendship, sacrifice, and deception, that complement each other and tie up well at the end. Chick lit fans will come to this book for the cover, but they will stay for Caitlin's strength and personal growth.
Diva picks up where Breathing Underwater leaves off, but this time, it is Caitlin's turn to tell the story, relating her life post-break-up with her abusive ex-boyfriend Nick. Besides learning to forget about him, Caitlin is also dealing with other issues: since dating Nick, she's lost almost all her old friends, leaving her with a group of airheads she doesn't care about. As a result, she has more time to pursue her real passion, opera singing. Flinn explores Caitlin's passion in full, alluding to famous works and showing the reader how desperately Caitlin dreams of being an opera diva. Caitlin enters an arts high school, against her mother's will, but it is here that she finally blossoms. Caitlin becomes increasingly loveable as she wrestles her way through a new school, adjusting to the new social life and pressures of auditions and rehearsals. The contrast between her old cheerleading friends and new artsy friends helps Caitlin realize just how far she has come, and it is very satisfying to watch her grow as a person. She sets an excellent example as someone who follows her dreams, despite other people's opinions. KLIATT Codes: S--Recommended for senior high school students. 2006, HarperCollins, 272p., $15.99 and $16.89. Ages 15 to 18.
—Joanna Solomon
Children's Literature - Kelly Grebinoski
A "diva" doesn't always have it all. In fact, Caitlin McCourt has been through a lot. She got a restraining order against her physically and emotionally abusive boyfriend who obviously ruined her self-esteem. Luckily, she's picked herself back up again, but continually struggles with her weight, and she also has issues with her mother. Her mother would rather have people think of Caitlin as her sister, and is involved with a married man who doesn't have it all together, either. To make matters worse, she flirts with her friends and isn't a supporting anchor for Caitlin. Caitlin's remarried father is rarely in her life. Finally, something goes right and she gets into Miami High School of the Arts where she can practice her opera singing. Of course, she struggles with the dancing and with trying to fit in with the artsy students. She feels a bit more "normal" and decides she has to confront the problems she faces at her new school. Caitlin's story is told in many forms, including online journaling, or blogging. She's a multifaceted character who's empathetic and real to the bone. Her issues with family and friends are real and relatable to many teenagers.
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Caitlin, who was abused by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Nick, in Flinn's Breathing Underwater (HarperCollins, 2001), wants to put that relationship behind her. A talented opera singer, she gets into Miami High School for the Performing Arts despite her own nervousness and her mother's objections. Even there she feels like an outcast as she can't dance or sing pop and she obsesses about her weight. Her mother dresses like a teenager, is dating a married man, and seems to live off her ex-husband. At auditions, she meets another talented opera singer, Sean, but just as Caitlin's starting to fall for him, she realizes he's gay. While she's struggling to put all this into perspective, her singing instructor suggests that she try out for a summer opera program in New York. In the end, the teenager patches things up with her ex, who has reformed through counseling. After she gains new respect for her mother, and new confidence, she decides to pursue her dream and is accepted to the program in New York. Caitlin tells her story partly through online journal entries. Although her understanding of her mother comes too rapidly, this is a solid story, full of self-deprecating humor, snappy dialogue, and well-developed characters and situations.-Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Determined to become an opera diva, 16-year-old Caitlin McCourt transfers to Miami High School of the Arts (MHSA), where at first fitting in with her talented new classmates is difficult. However, thanks to her mother and ex-boyfriend, Nick, her transition is even more complicated. Flinn first introduced Caitlin and Nick's physically abusive relationship in Breathing Underwater (2001), and although the couple is separated, aftershocks from this earlier text are still palpable, especially Caitlin's major confidence issues, in particular regarding her weight. Although Nick makes several appearances (despite a restraining order), Caitlin slowly and plausibly moves past this destructive relationship by focusing on her transition to MHSA, her funky new friends, who are drawn with great depth, and the discovery of her powerful voice, both on stage and off, especially when dealing with her mother. Realistic and thoughtful. (Fiction. YA)
“Flinn turns a fine eye on the seemingly never-ending mother-daughter dance, in which someone is always out of step. A fast read, but there’s meat here, too.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Read an Excerpt


By Alex Flinn

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Alex Flinn
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060568453

Chapter One

Lots of girls I know call themselves divas. "I'm such a diva!" they say, as they're rubbing your nose in some five-hundred-dollar shoes their daddy bought them. But being a diva's a lot more than just being a rich grrrl. It's about singing, about getting flowers thrown onstage--about being brilliant. I plan to be a diva someday. But first, I have to get through this audition.

And--wouldn't you know it--there's a wad of phlegm stuck in my throat.

The scene: I'm in an auditorium with, maybe, fifty other wannabes, trying out for the musical theater program at Miami High School of the Arts. Goths sit with goths, punk rockers with punk rockers. The girl next to me has an eyebrow-ring and hair Jell-O-dyed acid red. Everyone here has something freaky about them . . . except me. I'm the one and only person here in a dress (which maybe is freaky).

And I bet I'm the only one here with gunk in my throat.

Don't think about it. But I can feel it lying behind my tongue like cafeteria spaghetti, at a life-changing audition. I clear my throat and Eyebrow-Ring Girl gives me a look and nods at the person onstage.

'Scuse me--I'll choke more quietly in the future.

I sneak another look at her. My cheerleader friends would say she probably isn't getting enough attention at home. But I think anyone who'd wear that outfit has to be cool, and Iwonder what it would be like to want to be noticed.

Me, I'm all about not being noticed. I'm sixteen, and for the first fifteen, I was a fatgirl, invisible as they come. I was okay with that. Well, maybe not okay, but . . . used to it. But last summer, I went to fat camp and lost thirty-five pounds, and became (at least temporarily) a thin girl, a blond prettygirl. I actually made the homecoming court and dumped the hottest guy in school . . . and still became one with the walls most days.

If any of my friends knew I was here, auditioning for a performing arts school, that they'd notice. In a bad way. But I didn't tell them. I didn't even tell my mother. This is the first time in my life I've ever done anything all by myself. There's a bunch of reasons for that.

First, my friends all want me to be like them--cheerleaders, homecoming queens. I thought by losing weight I could be like that. But now, even though I'm thin enough, I'm still not cheerleader material. Funny, changing how I looked didn't change who I am. I picture myself doing a pyramid or making up a cheer and . . . oh, puke.

"See anything interesting?"

Too late, I realize I'm still staring at the girl with the eyebrow ring. I am a dorkus maximus.

"Um . . . I love your hair."

"What are you doing?" she asks.

I stare at her. Is it that obvious I don't belong here? Is it the dress?

"For the audition? Habla ingles? What are you performing?"

"Oh . . . I sing . . . opera." I wait for her to laugh or make a snarky comment.

"Cool." She raises her pierced eyebrow. "You have one of those horn helmets?"

I make the face Mom calls my diva face--eyeballs up; trying not to snort. "Um, not yet."

"Sorry. It's just, you don't look like an opera singer. You're not . . ."

"Fat?" No. Not anymore.

The girl laughs. "That's not what I was going to say."

But I know it was. It always is.

The woman up front calls a name (not mine). Eyebrow-Ring Girl turns to look.

Opera is the second reason I'm here. I love it. Most people think opera is a weird thing. Probably so. But it's my weird thing--the one thing I'm really good at. Maybe good enough to get a dessert named after me someday (Peaches Melba was named after a diva) or maybe a town. Maybe even good enough to get into this school.

The biggest, hugest reason I'm here (and the reason I'd never tell anyone) is my ex-boyfriend. I need to go somewhere where everyone hasn't already heard the sad, sad saga of me and Nick. And also, where I don't have to see him every day.

I pop a cough drop into my mouth and make myself sit still for two whole minutes, until the girl who's auditioning finishes singing.

Omigod! What if I'm next?

"Sean Griffin," the woman up front calls.

I actually really, really wanted to be next.

I read a book about auditioning. It said the worst thing that could happen in an audition is that you don't get the part, so you have no money, so you can't buy food, so you die. Like . . . if you thought that the absolute worst thing that could happen at an audition was death, then you'd be less nervous about screwing up.

That so did not make me feel better.

"Here I am!" a voice sings.

The guy, Sean Griffin, is skinny and wears a purple unitard, which seriously clashes with his blond hair, and eyes so blue I can see them even from a distance. He looks older, and he's been standing with the teachers, so I thought he was an assistant or something. Guess he's just a suck-up. He walks onstage, plunks a Burger King crown on his head (Really!), and starts to sing.

Everything has its season. Everything has its time.

Show me the reason and I'll soon show you a rhyme!

As soon as he starts singing, I'm nervous. I mean, more nervous. Lots of people at the audition were good. But Sean Griffin is the first person who's like a professional, even in that geeky outfit. I now know why he was standing up there with the teachers, like he belonged there. He knows he's going to get in.


Excerpted from Diva by Alex Flinn Copyright © 2006 by Alex Flinn. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Alex Flinn loves fairy tales and is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Beastly, a spin on Beauty and the Beast that was named a VOYA Editor's Choice and an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Beastly is now a major motion picture starring Vanessa Hudgens. Alex also wrote A Kiss in Time, a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty; Cloaked, a humorous fairy-tale mash-up; Bewitching, a reimagining of fairy-tale favorites, including Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, and The Little Mermaid, all told by Kendra, the witch from Beastly; and Towering, a darkly romantic take on Rapunzel. Her other books for teens include Breathing Underwater, Breaking Point, Nothing to Lose, Fade to Black, and Diva. She lives in Miami with her family.

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