Genre: MG contemporary
Word count: 57,000


Florencia’s immigrant parents raised her to be an overachiever, so of course everyone was thrilled when she landed the part of Clara in The Nutcracker. But on opening night, Florencia suffers a panic attack and can’t perform. Eight months later, anxiety rules Florencia’s life.

On her twelfth birthday,  Florencia agrees to celebrate at the mall with her best friend Selena, just to show her mom the anxiety is a thing of the past. When Selena is caught shoplifting, she asks Florencia to take the blame. Florencia refuses, but Selena blames her anyway and vows never to speak to her again. 

After the nightmare at the mall, Florencia is convinced she will never be the girl who once was Clara. But then she sees an Irish dance competition, and the music ignites a determination buried deep inside. She enrolls in lessons and finds she’s actually good at it—especially for a Latina with not a drop of Irish blood. In fact, she might even have a chance to make it to the Irish Dance World Cup.

Plagued by her anxiety, her jealous ex-best friend, and the memory of the fateful Nutcracker, Florencia sets out to conquer her self-doubt. With the help of an Instagram celebrity and a boy fighting for the Irish Dance World Championship, Florencia will fight to vanquish her fears, forgive her enemy, and, hopefully, believe in friendship again.

First page:

In the small town of Andromeda, Utah, I was the most promising star. My own face smiled down at me from a gigantic billboard on the freeway, advertising The Nutcracker’s opening night. The billboard didn’t say that first call was at five-thirty, an hour ago. I was Clara, the youngest Clara to ever perform in the old town theater, and I was late.

Miss Sofia, the ballet director, wouldn’t care that even though we’d left the house with plenty of time, we’d been stuck in the same spot for two hours. The freeway was a parking lot covered in black ice.

“No one is irreplaceable,” I thought I heard her say, but it was just the sound of my rushing thoughts and my heart counting down the minutes.

“Mamá,” I said, “please hurry.”

Mamá ignored me like she ignored her phone’s ringing every few seconds. But when Papá pointed silently to the right, she cut in front of a U-Haul. The truck honked so long, I covered my ears with my hands.

“Florencia,” Mamá said. “You’re going to ruin your hair.”

It had taken two days and nights for my curls to hold. Between the curlers and the bobby pins, my scalp throbbed like a stubbed toe.

“Oh, well. Hold on tight.” Mamá took a big breath, crossed herself, and drove over the snow drift that separated our car from the freeway exit she’d had just missed.

“Inés, don’t!” Papá protested. “What if you cause an accident?”

He never raised his voice.