A revealing and absorbing journey through dance classes and competitions to success.

TAKING FLIGHT

FROM WAR ORPHAN TO STAR BALLERINA

Dancing becomes a dream fulfilled.

She is born Mabinty Bangura in Sierra Leone during the Harmattan, a season of Saharan winds. Despite her vitiligo, a skin condition causing spotting, her parents love and nurture her. In 1991, civil war destroys that life, as “debil” (rebel + devil) soldiers bring destruction and the deaths of her parents. A white couple from America adopts her from an orphanage, and Mabinty, now Michaela, leaves starvation and atrocities behind—but not the nightmares. A magazine cover of a ballerina gives her a dream of dancing on stage in tutus and toe shoes, and her American family encourages that dream with classes and attendance at performances. Unfortunately, American racism also becomes part of her life in shopping malls and at ballet schools. With incredible perseverance, family support and talent, Michaela succeeds: She is now dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. She has been a media star and was one of six dancers featured in the 2012 documentary First Position. Readers will find her life story gripping whether or not they are dance fans. The dialogue is fictionalized, but the heart of the journey resonates in this mother/daughter collaboration.

A revealing and absorbing journey through dance classes and competitions to success. (Memoir. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-75511-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.

YOU'D BE HOME NOW

A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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