I missed out on many reviews last week what with Armchair BEA and everything, which was much fun. A big THANK YOU to all the organisers.
Anyway. Last week, I didn't review much, so this week no doubt I will be reviewing muchly :D among other things, I read On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover, and I need to say something about it.
Summary (from Goodreads): For as long as she can remember, Clare and her family have had a dream: Someday Clare will be a dancer in City Ballet Company. For ten long years Clare has been taking ballet lessons, watching what she eats, giving up friends and a social life, and practicing until her feet bleed -- all for the sake of that dream. And now, with the audition for City Ballet Company right around the corner, the dream feels so close.
But what if the dream doesn't come true? The competition for the sixteen spots in the company is fierce, and many won't make it. Talent, dedication, body shape, size -- everything will influence the outcome. Clare's grandfather says she is already a great dancer, but does she really have what it takes to make it into the company? And if not, then what?
Review: I'm not really sure why I read this. I did ballet when I was younger for three or four years, but gave up when I was eight because they told me I wasn't good enough to take the exam I'd be practising for ages for, and wouldn't let me take any more lessons with them. So, well, I realised when I read On Pointe that Clare's story was much the same as mine, even though she was dancing seriously and it was what she wanted to do forever, and she was being accepted into a proper ballet company, and I was practising for my Grade 1 Primary.
Anyway. Even though most of the time I don't miss doing ballet, I like reading books about it. When I read books like Ballet Shoes and A Company of Swans, it makes me want to start twirling around in a leotard and such again.
So, well, at first On Pointe seemed really different from this. It vividly describes the pain and pressure of being a ballet dancer, and it made me almost glad that I hadn't decided to keep dancing. I winced at the pain of the shoes, the blisters, the endless practice, etc. etc. Who would put themselves through that? Well, I guess the same way I stay up until I feel dizzy with tiredness, my neck goes crunch and my wrists make a weird clicking noise whenever I move them so that I can write things (not just blog entries, poems and novels too). And like Clare says, "it's worth it." I suppose it is. I don't care if I end up with neck pains and a warped back for the rest of my life. Writing is what I do and I'll put up with a little pain to have the satisfaction of creating whole worlds, scenarios, characters.
Enough of my rambling. Anyway. The second half of the book is when everything becomes much clearer to Clare. You can be a dancer without having to put yourself under all that pressure and through all that pain. Yes you can! Which is why it makes me want to borrow teach-yourself-ballet type books from the library and dance about now and again (I except my readers are sniggering behind their ARCs as they read this).
Another reason I love this book: it's a blank verse novel. And, while it's not the best novel-in-verse I've read, it still has that flowing stream-of-consciousness atmosphere to it. The book's hard to put down because instead of each part of the story being individual separated poems, the poetry is only broken by line breaks now and again.
One thing: I'm not sure what to make of the whole bulimia sub-plot. In the beginning, Clare seemed concerned about her friends who would vomit before every lesson, but then as the story progressed it just sort of faded into the background. I mean, apparently Rosella's mother encouraged her to throw up what little she ate, and when Clare found this out she seemed to be all, "um. OK. If her mum says it's alright for my friend to do this to herself, then I shouldn't be worried." Um, HELLO?! If Rosella's mother told her to jump off a cliff would she do it (providing it would make her a better dancer)? Well, probably. I'm not exactly an expert but bulimia is BAD. I know that much.
Summary: Mostly good, with some flaws, which can be overlooked with the re-assuring...moral? Is it a moral? That makes it sound like a fable. Which I suppose it is, the moral being: you CAN do it! (but not without some struggle, which makes it interesting).
An awesome book whether you're a dancer, you want to be one or you don't know what an arabesque is, On Pointeis a great read. Rating: 4.
A teenage girl from south-west England who spends her days reading, writing novellas and watching classic films.
Overenthusiastic student of German and Russian as well as the double bass, and a fan of interesting architecture, French literature, cinematography and talking about herself in the third person.