Review posted June 28, 2012.
Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011. 294 pages.
This book begins:
My name is Hannah Ward. Don't call me a ballerina.
Ballerinas are the stars of the company. They dance center stage under the spotlight, and they get their own curtain calls. Their head shots are printed in the program, with their names in large print. Me, I'm a dancer in the corps de ballet, just one of the dozens of girls who dance in graceful unison each night. My mother thinks I'm a star, but she's biased.
Hannah Ward is 19 and a member of the prestigious Manhattan Ballet Company. She'd like to be promoted to soloist, but that will mean around-the-clock hard work, as well as competition with her friends, the other members of the corps. She's lived in New York City since she was 14, when she went to the Manhattan Ballet Academy. She's living her dream; is it worth it?
Hannah's happy with her lot until she meets Jacob, a non-dancer and a student at NYU. He seems to think that if she likes him, she should be able to spare some time with him. But ballet is her life, and that's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it?
Novels that question what a person wants out of life are always absorbing. This one provides an authentic look into the world of ballet, making it all the more interesting. I didn't like the present tense narration, but that's a personal quibble. The plot seemed a little spotty, with Hannah going through waves of determination to get a promotion, followed by periods where it didn't seem so important, but I'm sure that's how it would be in real life, even if it didn't make as strong a plot arc.
I never took a ballet class and still enjoyed this book. I imagine that any teen who ever took a ballet class will particularly enjoy it.