This week’s Recommendation Wednesday post is brought to you by Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe challenge. The parameters for the challenge are very simple:
- Read and review one book
- Written by a person of color
- During the last two weeks of September (September 14th – 27th)
I really liked this book, even though it is super dark. (And by super dark I mean it deals with really dark subject matter: child abduction and child rape.) While the book does deal with heavy subject matter, I think what keeps it from being too is that Colbert keeps the focus on main character Theo and her relationships with her friends, her parents, and, of course, ballet. So while the book starts with Theo’s childhood best friend Donovan returning home after being abducted, the story is mainly about how Theo navigates her feelings about it while going about her day to day life.
That means, of course, going to school every day and dealing with everything that goes along with that. And keeping up with ballet practice.
Because Theo interacts so much with so many other characters–all of whom are affected by Donovan’s return in some way, though none as directly or deeply as Theo–the narrative takes much needed breaks from the turmoil Theo feels because she has to do stuff like run the concession booth at school.
God, I’m making this sound boring. It’s not.
What I Liked
– That cover!
– Theo is a fascinating character who is friends with fascinating characters. She is flawed and believably so. Honestly, I just wanted to give her a big old hug when the story was over.
– I really love that Theo is screwed up and comes from a normal family. She has loving parents, she has a relatively good life, but at the same time, her life is a mess. So often in literature, there’s a straight line from trauma to family, and in this one, there is no straight line. Theo’s parents love her and they’re involved, but she’s just…a mess. And that’s something that happens in real life.
– I also love that, ultimately, Theo has to ask for and get help from adults because her problems are so big that she can’t tackle them on her own.
What I Didn’t Like
– The book isn’t perfect. One thing my book club agreed on is that we wish there had been more ballet and more of Theo processing her feelings through ballet. (The cover is misleading in that way. Though Theo is a ballerina, the cover makes it seem as though dance is the crux of the story. It’s not. The story is about a dancer, not about dance.) And one woman thought the book read a little like tragedy porn. So those are things to be aware of.
In conclusion: While more of a focus on the use of dance to process feelings would have been nice, the characters (especially main character Theo), relationships, and overall plotting make this an engrossing and worthwhile read.