Robin finally has his big break, but the world is watching and expecting him to fail.
Draper, author of the Disaster Strikes! series (Red River Raging, 2014, etc.), tackles a new challenge with the story of a ballet student given a career-making opportunity to understudy the part of Puck in a professional production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Though the story, aimed at reluctant readers, moves too quickly at times, it nicely captures the competition and camaraderie of a group of people whose bodies are honed, molded, bloodied, and broken in pursuit of a common dream. It is refreshing to see this story told from a male dancer’s perspective, and Robin’s narrative style, arrogant and vulnerable by turn, aptly reflects the angst and self-doubt of a teenager who realizes that obtaining his heart’s desire means that he now has something to lose. As his good fortune turns his classmates into critics and breeds its own particular brand of loneliness, the novel’s dramatic stakes remain clear and absorbing. While Robin is the novel’s protagonist, ballet itself is undeniably the story’s main character. Contextual usage of ballet terminology and vivid description of movement bring the physicality and fluidity of dance to life, making this novel both a love letter and useful introduction to the art form.
Dance veterans and newbies will relate to this readable account of the trials and tribulations of being in the spotlight. (Fiction. 11-15)