Lorie Ann Grover
2004 (Margaret K. McElderry/Simon and Schuster)
Clare is a ballet dancer and has been training to be one pretty much all of her life. She dreams of joining City Ballet as one of the 16 corps dancers and practices as hard as she can for the auditions, but there is a problem – she’s getting too tall. Throughout this book Clare deals with her own struggle with her height interfering with her dreams and watching the struggles that her classmates go through for their dreams of being dancers. She also deals with family struggles and the challenges of coming to terms with change you weren’t expecting. It’s a great book about accepting yourself and dealing with things as they come.
This book is written in a poetry format and that works incredibly well for it. Not only does it wonderfully highlight the internal struggles Clare is going through (a mom that just doesn’t get it, life not being fair, body image consciousness, etc.), but it also gives the book an almost musical rhythm that fits in nicely with the dancing theme. After putting this book down I often felt like dancing or stretching myself and a big part of that was the effect of the free verse format! It was a great choice for Grover to make for this book.
Clare was a wonderful character. She was real and three-dimensional. Sometimes I just wanted to shake her for thinking things that were just so unhelpful, but they always made sense for her to be thinking (someone in her position really might think that way, whether I like it or not!). I liked that she was so open minded about so many things, but not so much so that it wasn’t believable. She was curious about Grandpa’s religious faith, but she couldn’t get past her belief that the adult class were losers. Grover did a good job with making her consistent, which I really appreciated.
Ballet is such an alien world to me, but Grover did a great job of making it very real and very three-dimensional, but not so foreign that I couldn’t understand it. It felt authentic without feeling alien. I don’t know how authentic it really was, but I assume she did a good job with it since she was a dancer herself! She didn’t make me wish I was a ballet dancer by any means, but she made the world very real, and that’s important.
I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was incredibly well written and the characters were wonderfully real. The emotions were raw and real. I highly recommend this book. It is a marvelous teen read and a great character study. Grover did a great job and I look forward to more from her.