Thursday, May 8, 2014

84 Ribbons - Paddy Eger

Genre:  Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Review copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
From Goodreads

Seventeen year old Marta Selbryth realizes her dream of becoming a professional dancer when the Intermountain Ballet Company in Billings, Montana invites her to join their 1957 season. As Marta's new life unfolds, she must learn to face not only the successes of dancing in the corps de ballet, but the challenges and setbacks that might crush the dream she's had for so long.

After a couple of mishaps, Marta settles into life in a boarding house located near the ballet company. Her landlady, Mrs. B., is friendly, reduces her rent when Marta's offers to bake for the boarder and later allows her to use the basement as a practice studio. The two male boarders are supportive; Carol, a fellow boarder, ignores her.

Marta spends her free time practicing when she's not spending time with her new friends Lynne and Bartley, her fellow corps dancers. Their time together becomes an important lifeline through their first year.

Madame Cosper, the artistic director, is a demanding woman. Marta begins their association poorly when she makes a disastrous choice. Expecting expulsion, Marta receives a second chance in the form of dancing the unpopular character roles during the fall and winter performances. Marta determines to dance every role with confidence in hopes of proving to Madame that she's up for every challenge.

Steve, a young college man and a reporter, spots Marta when he's assigned to write an article about ballet for the local paper. He's attracted to her and begins his pursuit. Over the months ahead, he becomes her tour guide of the area and attempts to convince Marta to be his girl. But her steadfast focus is ballet and some of her adventures with him lead to problems with Madame Cosper.

Shortly after Christmas, everything changes for Marta, Bartley and Steve. Significant events permanently influence their lives. Each must deal with exhilaration and heartbreak as well as frustration and changes that test their ability to cope.


My Thoughts

I was excited to read this book.  I have always loved ballet. I am a realist.  I knew I would never be able to dance ballet. So I did the next best thing. I let my daughter take dance classes. Like Marta my daughter went through a lot of challenges.  One of the things this book talked about was Marta losing weight to dance.  I watched so many girls including my daughter have eating disorders because of dance.  It is a dangerous path but one that can be overcome.  She had the benefit of having a dance teacher who recognized these issues and had those students eat lunch with her.  If they didn’t eat, they didn’t dance.  I had a current student of mine read the book.  She said it is right on target as to the mental, physical and emotional sacrifices a dancer must make.  She also said she had to make a choice whether this was the life she wanted.  She is much younger than Marta but said it is a decision girls her age must make all the time.  As you find in the book it is not as glamorous as their performances make it seem.  This is a book that anyone, whether they are a dancer or not will enjoy.  They will be able to identify with so many things in the book, even though the time periods are different.  I have a line of students waiting to read this book.

Student Review by Isabella

Marta Selbryth is a young woman who had the love of dancing. She had grown into a talented young woman who has a chance to dance at a professional ballet company. She leaves the comfort of her home for Billings, Montana. She will sacrifice everything to achieve her dream.  I think this story shows the true life of a dancer and her thoughts.  I can connect myself to Marta because we both struggled to keep up dancing. We both left behind something fantastic. I recommend this book to my mother who loves realistic stories and has the love of ballet.

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