Looking Beyond the Ordinary by Janee Thompson
Fame, clout, money, and popularity; Jade Williams, a freelance hip hop dancer, has everything any high school senior could want, including the finest, flyest basketball player in school, Mike Harrison. Raised by her rich mother to believe that as long as she has status, money, and the perfect man, her future will always be bright, Jade will do whatever it takes to uphold her mother's expectations. That is until she becomes curious about a not so ordinary guy, who happens to be the school's most bullied student. The more she feeds her curiosity and gets to know him while planning for life after high school, the more she faces an important decision: choosing a life of pettiness, pride, and popularity, or walking a path towards empathy, compassion, and love.
There is so much happening in this story. Jade is the most popular, most beautiful girl in school. She's rich and constantly says, "Do you know who I am?" She is a talented dancer appearing in music videos and teaching at a local dance studio. She and Mike are friends but appear to the world to be more, to up their status in school. You would think Jade has everything going for her, but she doesn't. She has a verbally, emotionally abusive mom, a "boyfriend" who truly treats her like trash and no genuine friends to speak of. She secretly likes Jarell, the outcast who turns her world upside down. Going into this book, I incorrectly assumed it would be a cute love story. While it does have a love story in it, it shows how Jade truly grows into a better, more understanding person. Jarell teaches her a lot about herself. There are some heavy themes addressed in this book that could be taken as learning experiences and lessons. And it ends with a cliffhanger! OMG! I enjoyed this book and hope that there is a follow up because I need to know what happens.