Happy Friday, guys!
Who is looking forward to the long weekend? I know I certainly am!
I'm sure that some of you are looking for good long weekend reads, and we definitely have one to recommend for you. Shiny Broken Pieces is the second book in Tiny Pretty Things series, and it was fantastic.
Read on for our thoughts and more!
Published July 12th 2016 by HarperTeen
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.
Ever since June landed the starring role in last year’s performance, she can finally see herself as a prima ballerina. Being the best means making sacrifices, though, and getting what she wants might cost June everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved.
Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. But even if she returns, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? Or has she tarnished the treasured family name forever?
Gigi endured a year of torment from Bette and other dancers who envied her success. It nearly ended her ballet career—and her life—and Gigi is not going to let them go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.
After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?
It wasn't because of the quality of the writing - which was honestly, spectacular - but it was because I was just so startled by some of the genuinely awful behavior of some of the characters. I couldn't stop thinking for days about what the characters were willing to do, all in the name of succeeding at dance. I was taken aback, and it reflected itself in how I chose to rate the book.
After mentioning this to Tom and my struggles in determining whether I had rated the book correctly, he rolled his eyes and said: "Duh. It's because they realistically captured exactly what you went through in dance, and you don't want to owe up to it."
And that's the crux of it. Sona and Dhonielle have brilliantly captured the competitive human instinct that so many of us have in all walks of life, including my own as a competitive ballerina. To see it on the page is a startling moment, but also genuinely (and positively soul-searing), once you take the time to reflect on it properly.
Sona and Dhonielle bring us back to the world of competitive ballet, through the eyes of Gigi, Bette, and June. A summer has passed after the events of the first book, and classes are back in session, which means drama is about to kick into high-gear.
There are many things to love about the book, beginning with Sona and Dhonielle's diverse cast of characters. Gigi's African-American, Bette's Caucasian and June is half-Korean, and Sona and Dhonielle brilliantly show just how their backgrounds add to the complex tapestry of the school, while their individual experiences influence how they react to the unfolding drama of the school.
June in particular struck a note with me - as someone who is also Asian, many of her struggles about identity and appearance are ones that i've felt, and I definitely felt a certain empathetic kinship, as she learned how to differentiate between trying to be a version of what she thinks her mother wants her to be, and living her own life.
Each of the characters factor into an ongoing mystery at the school of who is tormenting Gigi, and Sona and Dhonielle do an amazing job of using the mystery to drive the action forward, but to also explore the psychology of each character. Even Gigi - who is touted as the wonder of the school - is susceptible to competition and jealousy, and the feelings are only accentuated by competition for roles in the school performance of Swan Lake.
Though not all characters have happy endings, they have satisfying and emotionally complete ones. Sona and Dhonielle tie up character ends nicely, showing how they've evolved to this point. Cannot recommend this book, and this duology highly enough.
But that's also what's brilliant and deliciously addicting about this book. We see human nature at its highs and its lows, and it's not only an intriguing study, but an important barometer reminding us on how to live our own lives.
Highly, highly recommend. Full stop.
About the authors: