One of our recommended books for 2019 is Becoming Beatriz by Tami Charles

BECOMING BEATRIZ


It’s Beatriz’s quinceañera, and she is ready to be treated like royalty. But when her brother, the leader of the Diablos, is gunned down by a rival gang, Beatriz will never be the same again. Her dreams of dancing, her hopes for fame, and her love of music died with Junito.

But when handsome brainiac, Nasser, asks her to join a dance competition with him—one that could land them both a role on Beatriz’s favorite TV show, Fame—Beatriz starts to feel the music again. And Nasser makes her feel alive again. But with her Mami practically catatonic with grief,

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It’s Beatriz’s quinceañera, and she is ready to be treated like royalty. But when her brother, the leader of the Diablos, is gunned down by a rival gang, Beatriz will never be the same again. Her dreams of dancing, her hopes for fame, and her love of music died with Junito.

But when handsome brainiac, Nasser, asks her to join a dance competition with him—one that could land them both a role on Beatriz’s favorite TV show, Fame—Beatriz starts to feel the music again. And Nasser makes her feel alive again. But with her Mami practically catatonic with grief, and her duties with Junito’s gang, Beatriz’s dreams are put on hold.

Set in 1984, the music, the dancing, and the rhythm of the life of a Puerto Rican teenager in Newark, New Jersey, reveal a story of hope and perseverance. By the time Beatriz turns sixteen, she has a much better idea about what her dreams are made of, what she’ll do to achieve them, and how to live the life she wants, rather than a life that someone else decided for her.

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  • Charlesbridge Teen
  • Hardcover
  • September 2019
  • 272 Pages
  • 9781580897785

Buy the Book

$17.99

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About Tami Charles

Tami Charles is a former teacher and full-time author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made it her mission to introduce her students to all types of literature, but especially diverse books. While it was refreshing to see a better selection than what she was accustomed to as a child, Tami felt there weren’t nearly as many diverse books as she’d hoped for. It was then that she decided to reignite her passion for writing.

Praise

“. . . a necessary portrayal of a young Afro Latina woman who makes her own path.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

 

Discussion Questions

1. “Un secreto entre de dos, se quede entre los dos. Pero un secreto entre de tres, sabe todo el mundo.” “A secret between two can stay secret—but a secret between three, the whole world knows.” What do you think of this saying? Is it possible for more than two people to share a secret? Why or why not?

2. Discuss Junito’s secret. Given the historic and cultural setting, what would happen if his secret was revealed?

3. Beatriz is certainly attracted to Nasser, but what else does he represent to her?

4. When truths begin to reveal themselves to Beatriz, her world shatters a little bit. But she still has dance. Would you call that an escape or a destination?

5. Throughout this book, faux newspaper articles are reproduced in the pages, giving a media perspective on the events of Beatriz’s life. What do you notice about the tone, format, and scope of these articles? How do they paint a different or similar portrait of Beatriz’s life compared to her own words?

6. Each flashback scene is formatted like a track in a music album (Track Five: Dance of the Rumba, December 8, 1983, for example). What does this say about the relationship between music, memory, and history?

7. Writing is an important part of Mami’s healing process. What do you think of the difference between her poems and Beatriz’s poems? Is there anything about Mami’s writing that surprises you? Why or why not?

8. Becoming Beatriz opens with a violent episode. What do you think about how this sets the tone and pace of the story?

9. Why does Beatriz refuse to tell the police about what happened with Junito and the Macoutes?

10. “Two feelings break out in a war—hate and loyalty. And honestly, I can’t shake either.” Discuss this phrase: What is Beatriz’s mindset when she thinks it? How does it resonate with your own life?

11. Discuss Beatriz’s adult role models. Does she have strong relationships with them? Why does Beatriz resist connection with the adults in her life?