When people look at Diondra, they see a basketball player. No, not because she's always wearing jerseys—the girl is six-feet tall. More than perhaps anybody else, her dad believes Diondra is destined to be a star in the WBNA. Thing is, that's definitely not going to happen:
I hate always being the tallest girl in school. Everybody expects me to play basketball, so they pick me for their team, throw me the ball, and wait for me to shoot. Big mistake. I fumble it every time. Then they have the nerve to get mad at me, like I did it on purpose! But basketball is not my game. I have no game. (11.4)
Not only does Diondra not have the talent; more importantly, she doesn't have a passion for basketball. Her true passion is art. But though she has a picture hanging up at home, neither her mom nor dad ever mentions it. Better to keep her focused on honing her nonexistent sports skills, right?
Gradually, throughout the course of the book, Diondra starts to find her voice. She may be shy in the beginning, but participating in Open Mike Fridays helps her share what she's feeling. She also gets some help from Raul, who compliments her charcoal drawings—it's a real confidence booster. By the end of the school year, Diondra finally tells her father that she can't live up to his expectations any more.
I'm sorry he feels so bad, but there's nothing I can do about it. I've made up my mind. If I can get into an art school, I'm going. Mr. Ward thinks I have a good chance of getting a scholarship. We'll see. Mom says my dad will come around. Eventually. I'm not so sure. (72.2)
Breaking out on your own is rarely easy, and the stakes are that much higher for Diondra since she knows she's going to let her parents down. Good thing she has trusty Mr. Ward there to reassure her that not only is it okay to dream, but that her dreams just might become her reality someday.