Cover Image: Shannon in the Spotlight

Shannon in the Spotlight

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

A cute middle-grade overall! As a theater fan, of course I loved the theater parts of it, and I think the author did a great job with mental illness and therapy representation.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.

Was this review helpful?


After Shannon accidentally lands a lead role in the summer musical, she realizes she has bigger things to worry about than stage fright in this contemporary middle-school novel about strained friendships, the positive power of theater, and the realities of being a tween with OCD.

Favourite quotes from the book:

“My brain is complicated. The stuff that scares me doesn't always make sense. Things like being dirty and walking barefoot are terrifying.“

“Grandma Ruby may get angry quickly, but she calms down even faster.”

Shannon is a very likeable and relatable character. There is a rift in her friendship, family drama as well as having to deal with her OCD tendencies. The interactions between the characters were very open and honest bringing the story to life. Relatable, enjoyable story, perfect middle grade book for KS2 children.

I really liked how OCD was portrayed in a positive light, showing the difficulties someone may have in every day life in a realistic way.

Themes include: family drama, living with OCD, friendship hardships and of course the theatre.

Was this review helpful?

I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the topic of this one. I haven't read many books about theater productions, so this was a nice surprise. I was glad that Shannon was able to put aside her misgivings and join the production.
I enjoyed the OCD representation and glad it was normalized, instead of being a problem that had to be solved and portrayed Shannon as "other." I think it's so important for kids to read books where things like OCD are normalized so they can learn to develop empathy for those who are dealing with it.
The pacing of this book was excellent and I read it quickly, while also enjoying all the nuances about friendship and being in middle school.

Was this review helpful?

I smiled many times reading this as my first production as a teacher was The Sound of Music. Having a theater loving child with OCD, I made a lot of connections to this story. I will recommend this to my own child as well as my students who will be entertained, will feel seen, and will connect to the friendship story. I thought it realistically portrayed someone with OCD.

Was this review helpful?

I’m going to say it - I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. I’m not usually a fan of middle grade books, but I did enjoy this one.

I like the way it portrays mental illnesses as nothing to be ashamed of. That someone with mental illness, whether it be OCD, anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses can do the things they want and the things that make them happy. So often I read about mental illness in books and the person is defined by it. While Shannon’s OCD and anxiety feature in the book, they’re not who she is.

I loved Shannon. I also loved Micah and Grandma Ruby. I admit, there weren’t any characters in this book I didn’t like, which is a rarity.

The writing was great, the book moves along at a good pace, and the plot is interesting. I love how even in a contemporary middle grade novel, you can have a twist - even if that twist is more of a solution to a problem.

I gave this book 4 stars because it was a cute, fun read that I recommend to anyone who likes middle grade novels or has kids in middle grade age.

Was this review helpful?

A cute middle-grade overall! As a thespian myself, of course I loved the theatre parts of it, and I think the author did a great job with mental illness and therapy representation. The pace was a bit fast, and it all felt very surface-level and a bit rushed, but I did enjoy it and read it in just a few hours.

(Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.)

Was this review helpful?

When I think back on high school, one of my biggest regrets is not becoming involve with the theatre kids. Drama class and school shows always sound like so much fun, and I wish I could have experienced it first hand. The closest thing I can get to going back in time and fixing this regret is reading books that surround theatre kids and the behind-the-scenes shenanigans. Shannon in the Spotlight is one of those kinds of books.

This middle grade novel had all of the characteristics that I could have asked for. We have complex characters that are dealing with issues that are realistic and relatable, relationship drama (romantic and otherwise), marginalized representation, and important character development.

I absolutely loved Shannon as a main character. While I don’t have OCD, the portrayal of Shannon’s experience with it definitely came across as authentic. She clearly has certain behaviors that she’s struggling to understand and control, but her personality was full of so much hope, understanding, and joy despite all of the things life was throwing at her. You just can’t help but want the best for this young girl.

This is the second book of Kalena Miller’s that I’ve read, and having thoroughly enjoyed her debut novel as well, I feel like we’re heading towards the making of an auto-buy author!

Was this review helpful?

As a former theatre kid, I absolutely adored this book! It really encapsulated the stress of auditions, waiting for the cast list, rehearsals, etc. The story was very well written, and I inhaled the book in an afternoon. I will definitely be recommending this to my middle grade patrons and looking out for more by Kalena Miller!

Was this review helpful?

Rating: 5 stars or 9.57 out of 10

Characters — 10. The characters in this book are fantastic. Each character in the story has their own personality and history. I loved Shannon and the supporting cast of characters. Shannon was my favorite character in the story, and I loved how she was brave enough to star in her first musical. Grandma Ruby was a great supporting character, and I loved seeing her interactions with Shannon as the story progressed. Elise and Fatima were Shannon’s best friends, and they both supported Shannon when she needed it, which I loved seeing.

Plot — 9. I really enjoyed the story of Shannon in the Spotlight. As a theater person who did theater in middle and high school, I loved the story, bringing me back to that time. The other side of Shannon in the Spotlight was the story of Shannon and her OCD, and I loved seeing mental health being represented in this book. We go on a journey with Shannon, and I love how much she cares about those around her, and how hard she worked on the show.

Writing — 10. The writing in the book flowed so well. Writing is not usually a 10 unless I’m pulled into every element of the story, and the writing really pulled me into this story. I loved how the writing pulled me into the story and gripped me from beginning to end. I loved how the writing was both lighthearted and heartwarming at the same time.

Enjoyment-10. I loved this book so so much. I loved how it brought me back to the theater, and how it tugged on my heartstrings. By the end of the story, I was rooting for Shannon and her friends.

Was this review helpful?

Shannon in the Spotlight is a new middle-grade novel by author Kalena Miller, and it features a tween struggling with OCD, friendship dramas, and a home life that suddenly feels out of control when her grandmother moves in with her and her mother. The main character, 12-year-old Shannon Carter, has enough on her plate with a sudden increase in the repetitive behaviors symptomatic of her OCD, such as washing her hands and reapplying Chapstick constantly throughout her waking hours. Her anticipation of the wonderful summer ahead, spending time with her two besties on the summer musical, is almost palpable. And her distress and disappointment over how things pan out even more so. The hurt she experiences over Elise’s actions is gut-wrenching, and the girls’ resolution of their troubles is quite emotional. Shannon is one gutsy kid.

The setting within a community theater production of The Sound of Music was fun and full of little bits of theater business and traditions. That world can be all-consuming to its participants, so Elise’s devastation over her audition and subsequent casting as Louisa rather than the prime role of Brigitta was realistic. She’s also twelve and doesn’t handle her disappointment or jealousy over her friend’s good fortune very well. I loved how Grandma Ruby slowly inserted her way into the production and how she and Shannon were able to build a relationship with each other that was separate from the fallout of the rift she had with her own daughter. I also loved the close relationship Shannon shared with her mother.

With its sympathetic and engaging main character, the sensitive portrayal of her struggle with OCD and the changing relationship with her best friend, and the competitive, yet ultimately cooperative, community theater setting, I recommend SHANNON IN THE SPOTLIGHT to middle-grade readers, especially those looking for OCD representation in fiction.

Was this review helpful?

I was initially drawn to this book as the main character’s name is Shannon Carter. This is my name too! How awesome to see my name in the spotlight. While I’m nowhere near 12 years old, I found Shannon to be very relatable. I have certainly had my share of fights with friends over the years! I kept forgetting Shannon was so young as her thoughts and actions were very mature. The play prep was written in just the right amount of detail to make me feel like I was part of the cast, and when the book ended I had an urge to watch the play!

It is nice to see a character living with anxiety and OCD in a healthy way, with the help of a therapist and family and friends that are supportive. Shannon was not made fun of and was allowed to be herself. I really appreciated this aspect of the story.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House Children's, Delacorte Press for the ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Was this review helpful?

Shannon in the Spotlight has so much to unpack which kept me as the reader not wanting to stop reading. Shannon as a main character was written so well I felt for her when she was dealing with her OCD and it took so much guts to audition. I did love the side characters Amir living his part cracked me up, Micah who got Shannon and their friendship was the cutest thing ever. But for me Elise story went on a tad too long as with the constant arguments between Shannon's Mum and her Gran.

I believe that any child who has OCD will see themselves. They will be seen by people who read this book who will realise just how difficult it is for a person with OCD and this is down to Kalena's amazing writing. I for one have been enlightened on a subject which I had not really read about in books and learnt a lot. For all these reasons Shannon in the Spotlight receives 4 Stars.

Was this review helpful?

Shannon in the Spotlight is one of those novels that has moments that might annoy or frustrate readers, but there’s a good reason for those moments. The book is OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) heavy. Like you’re never allowed to forget about it. That’s the point, though, Shannon has to deal with it all the time. It’s her life.

Author Kalen Miller has OCD in real life, and her experiences translate directly to the page. Readers are left with no question as to what life with OCD looks like.

But Shannon’s story is so much more than her disorder. It’s her talent, her family and her friends. As Miller explores each of these aspects, readers gain a look at the broader picture. It makes for a richer experience overall, and it’s nice to see supporting characters work through their issues as well.

Shannon in the Spotlight is a fine, contemporary novel with broad appeal.

Was this review helpful?

*Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Children's, Delacorte Press and TBRBeyondTours for providing me this arc in exchange for an honest review*

This was such a cute book. I really loved the OCD aspect, of Shannon. She was a 12 year old kid with OCD, but we see so much more than this. I highly suggest you to read this coming of age story about a girl who was always behind the curtains and for some reason she found herself to be in the spotlight. And how it affected her, and her relationships.

Was this review helpful?

Some nice middle grade realistic fiction with an especially good focus on OCD. The friendship storyline was somewhat less compelling, if still realistic, and Micah's inclusion as a love interest was sweet while also feeling like it was just adding yet another element, in the same way that the last minute show emergencies did. I did particularly appreciate how some of the problems were those which could be resolved neatly within the story while it was made clear that others were things to be managed longterm. Works well as both a mental health story and just one about being a theater-loving middle schooler.

Was this review helpful?

This was a delightful story about friendship, family, and giving yourself grace. The cast of characters is well thought out, with real and relatable interactions and conversations between friends and family. I especially loved the language used around therapy and how Shannon's friends and family all have their own little way to support her, whether by hiding extra chapstick or bringing a clean blanket to sit on. It was so great to see the love and support she has in all aspects, from taking on new challenges to dealing with familiar ones.

Was this review helpful?

There are so many things to like about Shannon in the Spotlight! The characters feel real, and the struggles between friends seems quite relatable for middle grade readers. My theater-loving kid will love all the Sound of Music scenes. Personally, I'm not a big fan of 12-year-olds having boyfriends/girlfriends, but at least Micah is a good friend to Shannon, and I think that's a good thing for younger kids to see represented in books.

Was this review helpful?

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the eARC of this novel. 4/5 stars.

I want to preface this with this is very, very middle grade. I appreciate how the novel focuses on Shannon's OCD in a way to normalize it rather than attempt to "solve" it because even by the end of the novel, she is still doing the same rituals and everything else she does with OCD. Others adapt to her rather than her adapting to them. The OCD also wasn't the main plot point, rather, it was typical 12 year old issues of friend drama and family drama and really just Shannon coming out of her shel after being (accidentally?) casted in the musical.

I say this was middle grade because the plot was there but it wasn't a very deep plot, and the pacing is incredibly quick and there are large time gaps in the play. After Shannon gets into a fight with her friend, the novel just moves past like 3 weeks of awkward silence between them. I did like the plot and the subplots in it though, and I appreciated how it showed Shannon's therapy appointments.

I really rated this mostly because it is a great mental health representation, especially for younger readers.

Was this review helpful?

The theater allows us to be things we never thought were possible. Shannon’s battle of dealing with her OCD, family issues, and trying to figure out why a close friend all the sudden wants nothing to do with her is such a real story. I love watching her trying to work through all the things that seem to be going wrong in her life mixed with small joys. Life is so full of ups and downs but dealing with a mental health issue while trying something new and having life seem to fall apart can be so difficult. Sadly, life doesn’t slow down when we need it to but Shannon is able to start figuring out ways to navigate life where she feels like she has more of a voice. I truly enjoyed how relatable Shannon was, and that she was able to find people who can accept her the way she is and even have tools to help her if she needs them to calm down.
Thank you so much to Random House Children and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advance copy of this title.

Was this review helpful?