I’ve always been a bit fascinated by ballet. I’ve never actually gone to see one, but the snippets I’ve seen online and in movies are always wonderful. There is a graceful athleticism in ballet that transcends every other form of dance.
But, as with most things, what we see under the spotlights rarely shows the whole picture. What goes on backstage and everything leading up to the performance always fascinates me (see also: every post about circuses), and the dark underbelly of the art. Tiny Pretty Things gives such a look into dancing at a top New York ballet conservatory.
This book is BIIIITCHY. If you think normal high school is catty, throw together a bunch of career-obsessed dancers. The plot centers around two prima ballerinas: Bette, the stereotypical ice queen, and Gigi, one of the few black girls to make it to the top in American Ballet. Bette has already sabotaged one girl’s career, and is doing everything she can to do the same to warm and focused Gigi.
The authors also use ballet to discuss anorexia and bulimia. June is a secondary character, but her battle with eating disorder is very vivid. We see another ballerina removed from the school because she’s not following the weight policies–something I don’t think is handled very well, and it doesn’t turn out great. This book becomes all about losing control, both personally and physically.
There were a few holes in the story, though. We never find out two really big parts of the plot. And Henri….just, ew. I didn’t really understand his character at all, who was he and what was the point of him? Just to creep us out? It almost seemed as if the authors wanted Mr. K to be deviant and set him up that way, but then changed their minds, so pushed it onto Henri. It set up for a sequel, but I won’t continue, I needed more answers in order to continue on, and I’m just not hooked enough. Three book dragons.