Happy Wednesday! For this week’s Mid-Week Mini Review, I had to highlight Dhonielle Clayton & Sona Charaipotra’s debut book about the hidden, vicious cruelty inside the world of competitive ballet. As a former ballerina, this novel definitely exposed the harsh and bitter side of professional dancing for those who are unfamiliar with the struggle of making it big in this small world, especially for women of color.
My book for this week:
Title: Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
Release date: May 26th, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Verdict: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
I was a ballerina for most of my childhood: from age 4 to age 13, I danced ballet, tap, jazz, and (briefly) hip-hop at this gorgeous little dance studio in Providence, Rhode Island. I remember idolizing the ethereal looking pointe dancers with their slim figures and expert skill, and wishing one day that I’d join them on the stage. This book features 3 prominent ballerinas at a competitive school fighting ruthlessly against their fellow dancers for a chance in the lead role. With a fast-paced plot colored by explicit descriptions of drug abuse, eating disorders, disability, infidelity, and bullying, Tiny Pretty Things is a rough journey for each protagonist, and their spite and unforgiving cruelty towards themselves and each other is not undersold for a moment. I really wasn’t expecting this to be such a heavy book, and felt like it for the entire time I was reading it. The pacing helped move the plot along in a way that didn’t let it drag, but sometimes I felt myself wanting to take a hot shower and curl up in bed to escape the vile psyches of nearly all the main characters. None of them are inherently likable, and their goals to rise to the top are hindered by underhanded plots and self-sabotage. Not that I didn’t like the book – it was simply much darker than I had anticipated. With a diverse group of dancers each fighting brutally for their moment in the spotlight, this writing team exposes the intense reality behind this beautiful sport, perfect for fans of Black Swan and I, Tonya.
What did you think of this book, if you’ve read it? What other books are you reading for Black History Month? Let me know in the comments below!