Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan
Published by Bloomsbury
Review by Lesley Finlay

Jenny McLachlan’s fast-paced debut novel tells the story of Bea who is desperate to sign up to take part in the national Starwars dance competition. She thought it would be a chance for the Ladybirds to re-form – the childhood dance group created with her best friends Pearl, Kat and Betty.
But life is not that simple – after the three form bands with other girls, Bea is on her own. Forced to rely on her loving and loyal nan to come up with a plan, she is both horrified and excited to discover her dance partner is no less than ‘school hottie’ Ollie – who just happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend.
The story moves on at breakneck speed; charting Bea’s isolation at school by Pearl who wages a cyberbullying campaign against her and her journey to conquer the unfamiliar dance moves, while overcoming her embarrassment and lack of confidence.
McLachlan, a secondary school teacher, has succeeded in creating a world of real characters and Bea is a lovely and charming heroine. The sections with her sister Emma (what an embarrassment) and life on the bus are funny and ring true, while she tackles the darker moments with just the right touch and avoids the schmaltz, particularly in the scenes between Bea and Ollie.
Readers brought up on a diet of talent and singing competitions will recognise the format which provides a neat structure to the ups and downs of Bea’s life. When published on July 3rd, Flirty Dancing is sure to draw in an army of fans. This will bode well for the rest of the four-book series, each one telling the story of a different Ladybird. Can’t wait!