Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)
Hardcover: 304 pages
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours for an honest review
An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girlís coming-of-age in the cutthroat world of New York City balletóa story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.
In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parentsí divorce, she finds escape in danceóthe rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.
Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of ìMr. Bís girlsîóa dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.
In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man sheís long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.
Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy - or save - us.
My daughters danced for several years and I have always had a love for ballet, so when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review Girl Through Glass, I was happy to do so. First, we have dispel any ideas that this book has any light, pink, fluffy ideas about the ballet world. Girl Through Glass, while beautifully written, presents an all too real and gritty view of the extremely competitive world of ballet.
There are two timelines in the novel -- the late 1970's ballet obsessed New York City where Mira is a young bunhead with ambition and talent - and present day where Kate is a troubled professor teaching dance history and making some serious professional and personal mistakes.
I was immediately drawn into both timelines. It is hard for me to decide which timeline I was more drawn to. Mira is a sympathetic, vulnerable character in need of some maternal guidance, which won't really be provided by her mother who is perpetually in search of herself. Mira inhabits the New York where Balanchine and Baryshnikov reign in headlines and hearts. And Kate, the lonely woman who is pretty obviously broken somehow. And yet, I was drawn into Kate's search for someone or something in her past and knowing that it would explain why she is behaving as she is. I was also attracted to the scholarly aspect of dance history.
I think it is supposed to be clear that Mira and Kate's stories must relate in some way. I had no problem figuring out where the story was going, but I was so interested in their lives and the worlds they inhabit, that I was happy to follow on both their paths.
I found Girl Through Glass to be a beautifully written novel dealing with the darker aspects of life and ballet. While there are some truly awful things that happen, I thought the author did a great job of detailing the events sympathetically. From the descriptions of Mira rehearsing and performing to Kate's lecture on the Balanchine myth, I was captivated by Girl Through Glass from start to finish. I can happily recommend Girl Through Glass to any reader who enjoys beautiful, thoughtful novels, New York City in the 1970's and of course, especially those who love ballet.
About Sari WilsonSari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York and was on scholarship at Eliot Feldís New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.
Find out more about Sari at her website, and connect with her on†Twitter.
Sari’s Tour Stops
Tuesday, January 26th: Bibliotica
Friday, January 29th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, February 2nd: Raven Haired Girl
Thursday, February 4th: Book Journey
Tuesday, February 9th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, February 9th: Stephany Writes
Wednesday, February 10th: 5 Minutes For Books
Thursday, February 11th: Thoughts on This ‘n That
Friday, February 12th: A Book Geek
Monday, February 15th: Lavish Bookshelf
Tuesday, February 16th: Kritters Ramblings
Wednesday, February 17th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Thursday, February 18th: A Bookish Way of LIfe
Monday, February 22nd: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, February 23rd: Books on the Table
Wednesday, February 24th: Dreams, Etc.
Tuesday, March 1st: Bibliophiliac