What does that spell? DIVA!!
The Divine Divas. They're fifteen and they're fine, and they want to be the hottest, hippest new girl group to hit gospel music. First they'll have to win the team talent competition. But with looks, energy, and voices like theirs, they are sure they'll go right to the top.
Diamond Winters is the one who formed the Divas. With her wealthy, loving parents and an endless supply of charm, she's always been able to sweet-talk her way into anything. But this time, has Diamond talked her way right into trouble? Diamond has support for her group from her family and church, but she has a lot going on. She's made it onto the school's varsity cheerleading squad, and she's caught the eye of the totally cool senior Jason Xavier. Jax is sweeping her off her feet, but Diamond is starting to feel as if she's in over her head.
Diamond has always been so sure she's in control. Will she have the courage to ask for help and guidance when she needs it? And will the Divas even manage to stay together long enough for the first round of the talent competition?
About the Author
Victoria Christopher Murray is the author of more than twenty novels including: Greed; Envy; Lust; The Ex Files; Lady Jasmine; The Deal, the Dance, and the Devil; and Stand Your Ground, which was named a Library Journal Best Book of the Year. Winner of nine African American Literary Awards for Fiction and Author of the Year (Female), Murray is also a four-time NAACP Image Award Nominee for Outstanding Fiction. She splits her time between Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Visit her website at VictoriaChristopherMurray.com.
Read an Excerpt
By Victoria Christopher Murray
Copyright © 2008 Victoria Christopher Murray
All right reserved.
We're gonna be so paid!"
I waved my magazine in the air and dumped my messenger bag onto the lunch table. I waited for my crew to say something, but not one of them even looked at me.
"Hello? Anybody home?"
India stuffed half a hot dog into her mouth. "I heard you."
"So, if you heard me, why aren't you excited?" But I wasn't just talking to India. I wondered what was wrong with Veronique and Aaliyah, too.
"Because," Aaliyah began, not taking her eyes away from whatever book she was reading, "you're always excited about something, Diamond."
"And what's wrong with that?" I asked. "I'm fifteen and fine! I'm supposed to be excited."
Veronique unplugged one of the earplugs from the MP3 player we'd given her for her birthday. "You are so the drama queen."
"Whatever, whatever. Call me what you want; I'm going to be a paid drama queen. And, I'm gonna let y'all ride because I love you and I'm special like that."
Veronique tried not to grin, but I knew she was feelin' me. She pushed her earplug in place and lay back on the bench.
When no one said anything else, I said, "Don't you want to know how I'm gonna make you rich?"
"Diamond," India said, now chomping on French fries, "you're already rich."
"Nuh-huh. My parents havemoney, but they've told me and my brother over and over that it's their money, not ours." I shrugged. "But it doesn't matter 'cause in less than a year, the cash will be flowin' my way."
Veronique sat up. "Okay, I'll bite. What's up?"
One down. But I still had to stare at India like she'd stolen something before she paid me more attention than she did her French fries. And then, we all had to give Aaliyah the evil eye before she -- with a sigh -- half-closed her book.
With their eyes on me now, I snapped the magazine open to the centerfold. "Peep this!"
India, Veronique, and Aaliyah stared at the pages that announced the gospel talent search, but then just as quickly, India tossed a handful of French fries into her mouth, Veronique stuffed her ears with the plugs again, and Aaliyah went back to her book as if she'd never stopped reading.
I could not believe them. I loved my crew like they were my own sisters. In fact, we always said we were sisters, since none of us had any biological sisters. But today I wanted to give them all back to their mothers.
"What are you guys doing?" I waited a moment. When no one answered me, I bounced on top of the bench even though I had rolled up my skirt so that it would look like a mini. "Hello!" I yelled. "Does anyone besides me want to be a star?"
There were plenty of cackles from everyone else in the school yard, but nothing from my crew.
Finally, Veronique said, "You're the one who wants to be a star, my sistah."
"Well, yeah," I said, wondering why she was taking the time to state the obvious. "Because I was born to be one. And we live in L.A. We're supposed to be stars."
"I don't want to be one." India wrinkled her nose like she smelled something nasty.
"Me neither," Veronique and Aaliyah piped in.
"That's un-American," I said. "But this is about more than just being a star." I paused, letting the drama build. "What if I told you we were about to be paid a million dollars?"
That made Veronique take both plugs from her ears. "A million dollars? Tell me more, my sistah."
"Actually, it's more like two hundred and fifty thousand."
Aaliyah lifted her eyes from her book just long enough to say, "That's a long way from a million."
I rolled my eyes. Leave it to the analytical one to take my words literally. Still, I said, "Not by much. And anyway, that's just the start. When we win this contest, we'll get phat contracts and we'll certainly have a million dollars then. Probably more."
"Go for it," Aaliyah said.
I rolled my eyes toward heaven and asked the Lord to help me. "You're supposed to be the smart one. Didn't you read that this is a group competition?"
"So, that's what this is about," India said. "You need a group; you need us." She shook her head. "And I thought you were telling us about this because you loved us."
"Love you, I do. But on the real, I need you." I paused, lifted the magazine, and began reading, "Glory 2 God Productions is the latest record label to take advantage of the American Idol phenomenon. Announcing their own talent show, G2G president Roberto Hamilton said, 'We're looking for fresh talent with hip-hop flavor, but with the heart and love for the Lord. We're excited about the possibilities. Our plan is to make the winning group superstars.'" I slammed the magazine shut. "They are obviously talking about us."
"We're not a group," Veronique said.
Inside, I moaned. "Not yet. But if you guys would pay attention and start dreaming this dream with me, we'd have a group in" -- I looked at my watch -- "how long will it take for us to come up with a name?" When no one answered, I whined, "Come on."
Veronique nodded her head slowly, as if she'd had a little peek into my dream. I knew I could count on her. Even though I considered India and Aaliyah my best friends, too, I was closest to Vee, which was what we called her. Veronique was quite different from me; she was different from all of us. With her wild, bronze-colored fro, the little gold stud in her nose, and wooden and beaded bangles up and down her arm, she looked like she was some kind of flower child from the sixties. I think she got her style from her mom. It was kind of old-fashioned to me, but I loved Veronique anyway. And I loved her even more right about now.
I clapped my hands. "So, you're in?"
Veronique said, "I didn't say that. I need to know more."
I sighed as India and Aaliyah looked at me like they agreed with Veronique. What more did they possibly need? Sometimes I wondered how we all became friends, because I was so far ahead of them it wasn't even funny. I believed in dreams that they hadn't even begun to imagine. But I stayed with them because India, Veronique, and Aaliyah needed me. India needed me to help her with her self-confidence, Veronique needed me to show her life's possibilities, and Aaliyah needed me...well, I wasn't sure what Aaliyah needed from me because she always acted like she didn't need anybody. But I loved them all.
I said, "Okay, what else do you need to know besides the fact that Glory 2 God Productions is doing a national talent search to discover us?"
"Are we old enough to enter?" India asked as she dumped her empty food containers into the trash.
"This is a teen competition, so you have to be between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. I guess nineteen is too close to twenty. And after that, all we need is to be sponsored by our church."
"Sponsored? What does that mean?" Aaliyah asked.
"I don't know, but whatever it is, Pastor Ford will do it for us."
"Are you sure?" Veronique asked. "Pastor's never heard us sing."
"What are you talking about? We sing in church every month."
Aaliyah said, "You want to enter the entire choir in this contest?"
I looked at Aaliyah wide-eyed. There was no doubt she was the brains; Aaliyah had never received anything less than an A since elementary school. But sometimes she acted like her brain went on vacation. "Of course I'm not talking about the entire choir. I'm talking about just us. If we can sing in the choir, why can't we form our own little group?" When they said nothing, I added, "Okay, let me break this down to you like you're two-year-olds: the four of us form a group, go to church, get sponsored, send in the applications, begin practicing, sing some songs, do some steps, win...and then get the big bucks."
"I like that big bucks part," Veronique said.
"So, you're in?" I asked.
India, Veronique, and Aaliyah looked at each other, and inside, I prayed, Please, God, let my crew have some sense.
Slowly, India and Veronique nodded. But Aaliyah held out her hand. I tossed her the magazine, then watched her look over the article.
"This says that the participants are responsible for their own expenses...."
"Expenses?" Veronique frowned.
Aaliyah continued, "All travel, lodging, and any expenses associated with the contest will be the responsibility of the applicants."
"So, hold up." Veronique stopped Aaliyah. "How much money are they talking about?"
"According to this," Aaliyah paused and read some more, "if we win in Los Angeles, we'd have to pay our way to San Francisco. Then to..."
Veronique shook her head. "I can't afford to be in this contest."
I was about to burst with frustration. "Why're you worrying about the money right now? Let's just form the group. If we're serious, you know my parents will cover everything."
"No way," Veronique said, lying back down on the bench. "My mother is not about to spend money she doesn't have. At least that's what she's always telling me."
"I said don't worry about the money."
"We have to think about how much this will cost. If we win this, like you say, we'd have to go all the way to...," Aaliyah said as she looked down at the magazine, "New York and Miami."
Veronique bolted up from the bench. "New York? When would we go to New York?"
I guess somehow money wasn't a problem for her now.
"That's where the semifinals are going to be," Aaliyah said.
"I always wanted to go to New York." Veronique bit her lip, then said to India and Aaliyah, "Maybe we should talk to Pastor Ford and see what she thinks."
"Okay, I'm willing to start there." I was doing everything I could to hold in my excitement. "So, are y'all ready to roll with me?" I held out my hand, and after a couple of moments, Veronique gave me a high five. Then, India. And although I could tell she wasn't really feeling this, Aaliyah finally did the same.
"You know singing ain't my thing," Aaliyah pouted. "But y'all my sisters, so when you roll, I roll."
I grinned. None of them were as excited as I was, but all they needed was a little time. India, Veronique, and Aaliyah had no idea how blessed they were to have me. I was on my way to making us all stars!
Copyright © 2008 by Victoria Christopher Murray
Excerpted from Diamond by Victoria Christopher Murray Copyright © 2008 by Victoria Christopher Murray. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Reading Group Guide
Reader's Group Guide
1. Diamond says that she "loved [her] crew like they were [her] own sisters" (page 2). In what ways do the Divine Divas treat each other as family? Do you have any friends you think of as family? What is the difference between "sisters" and "sistahs" as you see it?
2. Do you think all of the girls are motivated to form the Divine Divas for the same reasons? Which girls seem driven by the money and fame? Does anyone seem to be in it for the friendship? Or to offer praise to God through singing?
3. Diamond seems to get all of her advice on love and fashion from magazines. To whom do you go when you need some advice? Do you talk to your friends, parents, teachers, or neighbors? Do you think magazines are a good source for dating advice?
4. Discuss Diamond's relationships with her parents. How does she view her mother as being different from her father? Do you think their rules for her are fair? Did any of their actions end up surprising you?
5. When Diamond begins talking to Jax, her friends don't seem to approve. What do they see in Jax that Diamond is blind to? What did you, as a reader, notice about Jax that might be a warning sign for how he would eventually treat Diamond?
6. Were you surprised about how Diamond's parents and Pastor Ford reacted to Diamond's news about her night with Jax? Do you think that they were successful in helping Diamond recognize where she went wrong, and how to make better decisions in the future?
7. Do you think Diamond's experiences with a player like Jax are common for sophomores in high school? Were the characters in the book believable as high school students?
8. Veronique tells Diamond that "the only way to keep the boy is to keep the boy waiting" (page 229). Do you think this is true in Jax's case? Do you think that is always the proper approach?
9. Throughout the book Diamond talks about her "happy" as a noun. She views her contentment as tangible, something she can see and touch, and something that someone else can take away. Who and what affects her "happy"? How can she take more control of keeping her "happy" in place?
10. Pastor Ford asks Diamond if she would ever be willing to speak to other girls at the church about what happened between her and Jax. Why do you think Diamond refuses so quickly? Do you think she has reason to be embarrassed? Do you think she has an opportunity to help other teens by sharing her story?
11. Discuss Diamond's relationship with God. Do you think her religious views changed at all over the course of the novel?
12. At the City Championships there is some tension between the Divine Divas and the Faithful Five. How did the girls handle themselves? Do you think they showed maturity? What would you have done?
13. What lessons did you as a reader take away from the story? What did you learn about love from Diamond's experiences with Jax? What did you learn about friendship from the relationships among the Divine Divas?
14. Diamond's story is the first in The Divas series. Whose story do you most look forward to reading? With which girl do you most identify? What do you think the future holds for the Divine Divas? Are they prepared for a life of fame?
Enhancing Your Book Club
1. Make a mix CD of songs by youth gospel choirs, like the Divine Divas, to play at your book club meeting.
2. Diamond, India, Veronique, and Aaliyah have fun trying to come up with a name for their singing group. Come up with a name for your book club. Try putting your names together, or working in the name of your neighborhood, church, or school.
3. India makes personalized Divine Diva earrings for the performance. If you are hosting the book club, collect some materials so that members can make personalized bookmarks.
4. Visit the author's website at www.victoriachristopher murray.com. You can also visit her at www.thedivine divas.com to see what else she is working on. You can even sign her guest book with your book club's new name and let her know what you thought of Diamond.
5. Are some of the lessons you learned from Diamond's story reflected in the Bible? Can you pick out any verses you'd like to share with the book club?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I purchased this book for my daughter and she was been unable to put it down. She read the entire book in less than 5 days when it took her the entire summer to read 3 books. she is looking for more DIVA books.
This book is the best book that i've come across so far. I believe that most teenage girls will be able to relate to it or get the message from the book whether it be positive or negative.