Ms Hart has nine students in her 10th-grade creative writing class, all with plenty on their minds. Shante is unlucky in love; basket-ball star Marlon, careless of academics, is cocky about his future in the pros; Sunday dislikes and distrusts her mother’s new boyfriend, Mr. Johnson, with his greedy roving eyes; clever Mary knows she is fat; Rommi needs to pass her math class to get a gorgeous red Honda. Their final writing assignment is to think of something that might earn them a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Chapter by first- person chapter, the students change from ordinary to remarkable. Mr. Johnson attacks Sunday. She fights him off and ends up shooting him in self- defense. Shante visits a Jamaican psychic and is promised a boyfriend, who turns out to be her white classmate Jake. Her African-American parents are not pleased. Marlon suffers a possibly career-ending injury. Dorian begs for food for his brothers and encounters the kindness of a stranger. Each of the nine comes alive for us as they confront difficulties great and small and by the end of the year, each can claim to have earned a star. Engaging and insightful writing brings these teenagers to life, while their trials and joys enlist our sympathy and understanding. Author Brenda Wood really understands the complexities of adolescence and is able to weave her characters’ disparate lives into a richly-colored American tapestry. Teenage readers will surely relate.—Rayna Patton.