Girl Like Me
by Simone, Ni-Ni

When a radio contest puts her in close contact with sexy singer Haneef, sixteen-year-old Elite, who has a crack-addicted mother and is secretly raising her siblings on her own, gets the chance to make her dreams come true.

Ni-Ni Simone is a Jersey girl with an obsession for reality TV and celebrity gossip. She never intended to write teen fiction, but her editor and the literary gods had other plans. She whipped up her first novel, Shortie Like Mine, in two weeks, and has been in love with writing ever since. Shortie was the first of Ni-Ni's books to be selected by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) as a Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, and it's also a Virginia Readers' Choice Selection. When she's not writing, Ni-Ni is soaking up inspiration from music, TV, and most of all, the teens out there hanging tough no matter what comes their way. Ni-Ni lives in North Jersey with her husband and their children. Visit her online at, on Facebook @ NiNiSimoneOfficialFanPage, and follow her on Twitter @IamNiNiSimone.

This Cinderella story of a courageous ghetto girl will appeal to many young readers who admire or inhabit a world similar to Elite's, a 17-year-old beauty trapped in poverty by her crackhead mother. The story seems nearly as miraculous as the original fairy tale, yet Simone portrays Elite with depth and verve as the girl struggles to overcome her environment even after she falls for her handsome "prince," hip-hop star Haneef. Although Elite loves her mother, she hides her family life from her friends. She acts as the real mother to her younger siblings, but can't cope when she's caught up in a minor crime. Elite's rich characterization stands as the major achievement of the novel, although the formula plot and raw dialogue will attract many young readers. It is rendered in heavy vernacular that appears to be authentic and will attract those who know it, but may stump those readers to whom it's unfamiliar. Dynamic and interesting. (Fiction. YA) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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