By Andrew King
Pointe shoes. Pirouettes. Passion. Pain. If you’re a YA reader who enjoys dark dramas set against the competitive world of ballet, these harrowing stories deliver the complexity, edge, loss, and healing you’re looking for.
Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
opens in a new windowIn the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Mary Cecilia Jackson’s devastating but hopeful YA debut is about a ballerina who finds the courage to confront the abuse that haunts her past and threatens her future.
Savannah Darcy Rose—“Sparrow” to her friends—is a gifted ballerina. She’s also keeping secrets. Her long-dead mother always taught her never to be “The kind of girl who tells,” but in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend, she’ll have to confront all of the ghosts that haunt her.
Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small
This book will have you on your toes, and we’re not just talking about relevés.
A body is discovered in the dorms of the Paris Opera Ballet School. From this tragedy stems a prize of a lifetime for two best friends and ballet-hopefuls Marina and Kate: an open spot to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Question is: how far will they go for the Prize?
The hyper-competitive society of professional dance will already test their relationship, but enter “the Demigod,” company hottie and pas de deux extraordinaire who dances like he talks: perfectly. Will their bond survive this gauntlet of dance and love? Will they?
Tiny Pretty Things by Dhonielle Clayton & Sona Charaipotra
If cutthroat competition between aspiring dancers is your thing, then we’ve got good news for you.
Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to become the prima at their elite ballet school. And they’ll do anything to make sure someone else doesn’t.
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Violet is a young dancer just days away from achieving her dreams, but something’s about to happen that will change all of that. Something dangerous. Meanwhile, Amber has been locked in a juvenile detention center for so long she can’t imagine freedom. Enter Orianna, who is the connection between these two girls and the key to their dark pasts. This supernatural tale of guilt and innocence will entertain and unnerve you in equal parts.