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Books: Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You

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I have been back working at my old children's bookstore for a while, and have been meaning to post about these:Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill You : Much better than I was expecting; the main character is a dance student at an arts magnet school. The ballet detail seems right on to me (I'm an adult student, but I take open classes at a pre-pro school), but it's not the usual angst-ridden drama, it's quite light and parts of it are extremely funny. I recommend it as a light version of many standard ballet stories, but I think it's definitely library material and not buy-it-in-hardcover material. (Though the paperback should be out soon).


Some of you may be familiar with Caroline Meyer's historical novels about the Tudor queens of England; she's the new Anne Rinaldi. I find her books solid but uninspired and Marie Dancing was no exeption. The conceit of the story is that we are not dealing with just any Paris Opera ballet 'rat' but the one who posed for the Degas statue. (There is a picture book on the same theme which is much better, actually Degas and the Little Dancer). Mostly this is an excuse to delve into the vile conditions of the Parisian working class at the turn of the last century. It's definitely a book I would suggest that parents vet before giving it to their 9 year old, say. The mother is a drunk and an opium addict, the older sister has made the full jump from corps de ballet to prostitute, etc.


eta: The titles are linked to the Amazon page so you can see other reviews.

Edited by dido
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Thanks for the reviews, Dido. What ages do you think are appropriate for these books? When I clicked on the link, I saw the following quote from 'Dancing in Red Shoes...':

Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You (Hardcover)

by Dorian Cirrone "It isn't every day you walk into your sister's bedroom and find a naked guy on her bed, especially when that guy is your best..."

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Dancing in Red Shoes is younger high school I would think say 13-15; the naked boy is a model for her artist-sister. There aren't any explicit sexual situations, but much of the plot revolves around the heroine's (extremely--and of course unfortunately for ballet) large breasts. It's very frank about bodies and adolescent development, and the taboo surrounding certain body parts in our culture, but it tackles the problem of body image in a unique and interesting way: as a source of intellectual and artistic debate rather than solipsistic obsession.


Marie, Dancing could go a little younger--eleven to fourteen maybe?, simply because I don't think the younger ages would necessarily grasp all that's going on because of the way it's presented.

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Thank you so much Dido!

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i read that book too, i would recommend it to anyone under the age of 12 or 13 , in some parts it's racy, but it is a great example of the struggle a girl with larger assets has to go through in the dance world, espically ballet.


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Guest appjuli

Youth librarian here -

I just read it myself. It's in our Young Adult section, which means that parents may want to screen the books for kids under 13. The teen characters go to an arts school, and there's a good bit of discussion about whether the main character or her gay friend will wind up with the guy. Nothing explicit, but your child may or may not have been exposed to that subject matter before.


I did enjoy the book - worth reading!

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I'm reading Marie, Dancing right now it's not as good as I thought it would be. It's almost a little too easy to read, it should be recomended for a younger reading level. Not the storyline itself, but they way the author worded it. Has anyone here read On Pointe by Lorie Ann Grover?

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If you look down at the third thread here, you will see a thread named 'On Pointe'!

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  • 3 weeks later...

My 11 dd read Marie Dancing earlier this year as part of a history project. She found the story a bit disturbing; especially the alcohol abuse, the neglect of the girls and the older sister's behavior. She was very open about the topics and they provided many great discussion opportunities for us during the 3 week project. I would second the recommendation to pre-read the book if your daughter is a preteen or a sensitive young teen . . .



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  • 1 year later...

Last year I bought the book Dancing in Red Shoes will Kill you. The book was so funny and so good. I read it in less than a week.


It is really good for teenage girls. Its about a girl going through normal growing up issues and issues in ballet. The main character reminded me of myself because it talks about issues she has with her body, mean girls and she has not so normal friends (like me):).


Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Dancing-Red-Shoes-Wi...l/dp/006055701X

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Me too. I found it on Amazon marketplace for 2 Dollars (3 Dollars shipping). I hope it arrives soon :-)

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  • 3 months later...

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