Two best friends navigate their final transformative year at a cutthroat Paris ballet school.
Life for students, or “rats,” at the Paris Opera Ballet School isn’t for the faint of heart, and Marine Duval, who is French, and American Kate Sanders, have been inseparable since they were 12. It’s been a whirlwind four years, and now, as 16-year-old First Division students in their final year, they’ll begin the fight for The Prize: an invitation to become part of the Paris Opera’s corps de ballet. It’s believed that their ridiculously handsome and talented classmate Cyrille Terrant, aka The Demigod, can elevate a girl’s ranking just by proximity. Kate single-mindedly seeks out his attention while Marine worries that her more voluptuous figure is a hindrance. The pressure to win inevitably strains their once-unbreakable bond. Marine’s and Kate’s dual narratives explore their inner pain, desires, and motives, from why they dance to who they love, and, most importantly, what, and who, they allow to define them. Debut author Small, herself a dancer, brings authenticity (fascinating day-to-day details abound) to what it takes to flourish or wither amid the soaring highs and crushing lows of a competitive dance school while sensitively exploring the girls’ many emotional and physical extremes. All main characters are assumed white.
Addictive, angst-y, and heartfelt. (Fiction. 14-18)