Performing arts students Jenni, Lauren, and Maggie audition for and land the roles of backup singers for Nika Nitro’s summer tour. Jenni can’t believe she gets to be up close and personal with her favorite pop star all summer. Lauren’s under orders to not study her beloved classical music for a while. Metalhead Maggie just needs a job for the season. Though the three girls are very different, they become close and start to enjoy working with one another, even under the heavy tour demands. Of course, mischief and hijinks ensue as well. Can their newfound bond handle the strain?

Because this is a middle-grade graphic novel, what started as a “never meet your heroes” story took an unrealistically saccharine turn and ended too neatly and happily for me to really believe it. That’s my only complaint, though! Otherwise, it’s a fun, quick read about friendship and hard work. It’s fun to see girls of different musical interests come together for a common cause. There was plenty of diversity as well.

Bright and glittering colors pop off the page. The concert sequences were especially fun, with different lighting and star effects that made you feel you were in the venue. The figures were cutesy and cartoony, but not overly so, unless the melodrama of a situation called for it.

Here’s another beach read for you! This middle-grade novel tells a cute and colorful story about hard work and female friendship and support, with a happy ending.

– Kathleen

de Campi, Alex, Lara Kane, Dee Cunniffe, and Ted Brandt. The Backups: A Summer of Stardom. 2021.