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Diva Hardcover – October 3, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 7-10–Caitlin, who was abused by her 16-year-old boyfriend, Nick, in Flinn's Breathing Underwater (HarperCollins, 2001), wants to put that relationship behind her. A talented opera singer, she gets into Miami High School for the Performing Arts despite her own nervousness and her mother's objections. Even there she feels like an outcast as she can't dance or sing pop and she obsesses about her weight. Her mother dresses like a teenager, is dating a married man, and seems to live off her ex-husband. At auditions, she meets another talented opera singer, Sean, but just as Caitlin's starting to fall for him, she realizes he's gay. While she's struggling to put all this into perspective, her singing instructor suggests that she try out for a summer opera program in New York. In the end, the teenager patches things up with her ex, who has reformed through counseling. After she gains new respect for her mother, and new confidence, she decides to pursue her dream and is accepted to the program in New York. Caitlin tells her story partly through online journal entries. Although her understanding of her mother comes too rapidly, this is a solid story, full of self-deprecating humor, snappy dialogue, and well-developed characters and situations.–Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In Breathing Underwater (2005), Flinn told the story of Nick, a kid who seems flawless but beats his girlfriend, Caitlin. Diva is Caitlin's story. Some time has passed. Nick is abiding by the restraining order keeping him away from Caitlin, and she is still trying to understand herself. She no longer believes she is the fat no-talent Nick insisted she was, but she's still obsessed with her weight and unsure about trying out for a performing-arts high school and exploring her passion for opera. Then there's her mother, who wants people to think they are sisters and is having an affair with a married man. Written partly as an online diary, the story neatly delineates teens' concerns--some contemporary, others ages old. Caitlin makes the grade at her new school and begins to appreciate her talent, but things are rockier with friends and boyfriends. The most interesting relationship is between Caitlin and her mother; Flinn turns a fine eye on the seemingly never-ending mother-daughter dance, in which someone is always out of step. A fast read, but there's meat here, too. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060568437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060568436
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,959,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Alex Flinn was born in Syosset, New York. She learned to read at three and wanted to be a writer at five. She received her first rejection letter (from Highlights magazine) at eight. At twelve, her family moved to Miami, Florida, where she had a really hard time making friends, due to congenital shyness and a really bad haircut. So she read a lot and tried to write a novel but never finished because she had no idea what to write about.

Flinn attended a performing arts high school program, similar to that portrayed in her book, Diva, then majored in vocal performance in college. Panicked upon realizing that there weren't a whole lot of jobs for opera singers, Flinn went to law school.

Law school was, it turns out a really good place to learn to write for teenagers. Writing for teens and writing for judges are very similar because both judges and teens have a lot of demands on their time and minimal time for reading. Also, Flinn interned at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, trying many domestic violence cases, which were later the inspiration for her first novel, Breathing Underwater.

Breathing Underwater was published in 2001. It received many honors, including being chosen a Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association. It was followed by Breaking Point, Nothing to Lose, Fade to Black, Diva, and Beastly. Beastly is soon to be released as a motion picture. Her newest book is A Kiss in Time, a modern Sleeping Beauty.

Flinn still lives in Miami with her husband, two daughters, a dog, cat, and African Spur-Thighed Tortoise. She enjoys performing arts, biking, and travel.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on November 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
DIVA tells the story of Caitlin McCourt, a sixteen-year-old opera fan and singer, as she attempts to break out of her old life by transferring to a performing arts school. Among the things Caitlin is escaping are an abusive ex-boyfriend, vacuous "friends" who don't understand her interests, and the advice of her overbearing and superficial mother. However, her new school comes with its own share of difficulties. She has to learn to dance and act as well as sing, and she's afraid she's too "normal" to fit in with the artsy students.

Caitlin is an incredibly sympathetic character. Despite being burdened with a mother who's more interested in flirting with Caitlin's guy friends than supporting her daughter, and a father who's started a new family that rarely includes her, she manages to believe in and look after herself. Her voice is realistic and open, letting the readers in on all of her insecurities (which many teens will share). Her decisions make sense for her, even if readers don't always agree with them, and throughout the story she comes more and more into her own.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Caitlin's story is how her relationship with her mother evolves. Much of Caitlin's personality appears to be a product of her mother's hot-and-cold attitude toward her daughter. As Caitlin steps out from her mother's shadow, she sees not only her own needs and desires more clearly, but also her mother's. Caitlin's discovery that there's more to her mother than she realized is poignant and believable.

DIVA will be enjoyed by any teen, especially girls, struggling with the pressures of friends and family. With its colorful and well-developed characters, it's an easy story to get drawn into. The only criticism I could make is that the novel doesn't offer a great deal more than other good titles with similar subject matter, but what it does offer is so involving that it's hard to complain.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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By Claire on July 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Caitlin McCourt knew what she wants and she intended to get it – even if her mom didn't agree to it. Caitlin loved singing, especially the Opera and she promised to do everything to enter Miami High School of the Arts.

She actually used to be fat – really fat – but she went on a Fat Camp (is there really such a thing??) and shed at least 35 pounds. Then she became a pretty blond girl and eventually got a boyfriend. Too late when she realized, his boyfriend was from Hell.

Nick may have been wickedly hot, with a nice car, brought flowers occasionally and even wrote poetry. But beneath those façade, Nick actually hit Caitlin, he even said her singing was stupid and no one ever wanted to be friends with her except him.

Caitlin met new friends, Sean & Gigi and they were supportive of her because they believed in her. But her mom didn't think she was good enough. Her mom is a little eccentric - an oddball – she chose to dress like a teen-ager, way slicker and shorter than Caitlin’s clothes, much to her daughter’s dismay. Next thing she knew, her mom started dating another man, who was not only balding, he was also married to another woman. Caitlin didn't know anymore how to deal with her life.

I admire Caitlin for her perseverance to go for that something that she aspires to be. True, a lot of girls prefer to call themselves Diva but they do not know the extent of the word. As much as possible, Caitlin, a product of broken family – doesn’t want to ask for anyone’s help if she can manage herself.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I am compelled to read pretty much any and every fiction book about a hopeful singer, dancer, or actress. DIVA offers a realistic, contemporary look at one girl's performing arts school experience, intermingled with her personal life, her past, present, and future.

I thoroughly enjoyed DIVA. Not only is it a great companion piece to Alex Flinn's earlier story BREATHING UNDERWATER, but it can also be read as a stand-alone book.

DIVA is about following your heart, even if it leads you to something that others may not understand, and overcoming your fears. Caitlin's love and talent for opera is evident, as is her struggle to come to terms with the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend. Though this is a book and not a live performance, her voice, as it is written on the page, rings true.

DIVA is also about relationships, not only romantic but also related (mother and daughter, in this case) and platonic, friendly and competitive. There are so many different ways to connect with and be connected to others. As Caitlin learns to use her voice both onstage and off, readers will applaud her.
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By Elizabeth on February 17, 2014
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. The synopsis sets it up to be another catty teen novel, but it had a surprising amount of substance. The character is first introduced in one of Flinn's earlier novels, but this book stands alone. The character is very real, and the issues and fears she deals with on a daily basis mirror those of every teenager. While it addresses many issues modern teens face, it thankfully turns down the opportunity to become overly dramatic.

The musical aspect of this was just another plus side for me :-). From what I have heard from my many friends at arts schools, the depiction seems accurate, although I would like to point out that Phantom of the Opera is a musical and not an opera. In any case the music is only a small detail in the big picture of Diva. My only big complaint is the occasional use of text/im speech, while used for a purpose, still annoys me personally.

Originally reviewed on my blog.
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