Summer dance contest

This young-adult novel from former Sacramento resident (and recent resident playwright at Sac’s Lambda Players) David-Matthew Barnes is set here during the summer of 1986. Serena is drawn to the most mysterious guy in school, Brodie, and is with him when he meets Lance, a young dancer preparing for a competition. It is a teenage love story, but it’s between Brodie and Lance—and Serena, a wannabe journalist, is already dealing with the death of her older brother in a hate crime. It’s a fast-paced story with a number of local landmarks, but it does lean toward the melodramatic as it explores grief and loss—particularly the difference between having a loved one murdered and choosing to reject someone for being gay. The most interesting theme—and not fully explored—is forgiveness, as Serena ultimately decides to meet with the boy who killed her brother.