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by Robyn Bavati

Age Range: 12 - 18

Pub Date: Feb. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7387-3477-4
Publisher: Flux

Love of ballet clashes with the strict religious beliefs of a young teen’s family.

Ditty has been raised in a haredi community. These ultrareligious Jews focus their lives on following God’s commandments as written in Jewish scripture. They are very insular, forsaking television, film and other cultural lynchpins. Among their immutable beliefs is that girls and women behave and dress modestly. Ditty’s friend’s mother has hidden a TV in her bedroom, though, and when the girls sneak in to watch it, she sees a performance of The Nutcracker and is hooked. Over the next few years, she manages to take classes, spinning a web of lies and deceit to her mother to cover her actions. She is quite talented, which leads to advanced classes on Saturday—in violation of the Jewish Sabbath. Finally, the lies are exposed, and Ditty must choose irrevocably between her family and ballet. Bavati traces a difficult path, on which Ditty increasingly questions her beliefs and sees them anew through the eyes of non-Jews. Readers should note that the ballet studio is not as strong a presence as the arena of religious conflicts. Glossaries of ballet terminology and Australian-isms would have been helpful to supplement the incomplete Hebrew/Yiddish glossary.

A balletic variation on the familiar story of teen rebellion. (Fiction. 12 & up)