August 2015, Chicken House Books, Paperback, 272 pages, Review copy
Content: lots of humour, tissues needed.
Summary from Chicken House
Meet eleven-year-old Dara Palmer, who loves dancing and dreams of being a world-famous actress – which means she has to get the main part in the new school play.
When she doesn't get any part at all, Dara begins to wonder whether it's because of her looks rather than her acting skills.
Dara was adopted from Cambodia. But Dara's never down for long, and nothing will stop her from taking the spotlight ...
From the title alone I suspected that hilarious mayhem would feature in Dara's life, and it did. I loved the melodrama of finding out she couldn't act – I'm sure all readers can relate to being let down on a major event at school or outside it that they felt certain they should get. It felt like the usual overconfidence some people have.
What I hadn't expected was how heartwarming and heartbreaking Dara's investigation into her adoption gets. I've always been interested in Cambodia from the darker perspective of human trafficking. I've never been there, but I've researched it a bit which made it easier to imagine Dara's trip there. She does do a few reckless things which could have been really bad news, so learns a few lessons as well as discovering her past. It's nice that Dara got to do that, because sometimes in books characters are adopted from other countries but they aren't able to trace where they come from.
Hopefully the emotions which Dara goes through help readers in similar situations relate to being adopted, as well as being useless at acting, being able to make friends well and enjoy adventures with friends and family.
Find out more on Emma's website.