Hello booklovers, I am so pleased to have been invited to be a tour host for A.K. Small’s compelling new debut, Bright Burning Stars, releasing May 21st from Algonquin Young Readers. Read on for more information about the author, the book’s description, my review and where you can purhcase a copy of your own!
As a young ballerina in Paris, young adult novelist A. K. Small studied at the famous Académie Chaptal and later danced with companies across the US. Inspired by the dancers from her childhood, Small weaves a vivid story of a fiercely competitive female friendship in Bright Burning Stars. Following two teens fighting for center stage and a spot in the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet, this page-turning novel explores the lengths it takes to turn talent into a career. A gifted new writer, Small brings the reader into the passionate world of ballet all while telling an engrossing story of female friendship.
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Bright Burning Stars is a tumultuous, dramatic and frenzied read that shows the dark side of a competitive ballet school, in the vein of Black Swan.
Best friends Marine and Kate would do almost anything to win the coveted Prize … to become one of the students retained for the Paris Opera’s ballet company. The problem? There is only room for one male and female pair. Despite their friendship, Marine and Kate are rivals and their loyalties to each other will be tested. With sights set on the Prize, both girls become entangled with Cyrille, aka The Demigod, considered to be the best male dancer in the student company and a ballet prodigy.
Things get pretty intense from here and I would only recommend this to mature readers, as the story tackles some realistic but tough topics. The relationships in this book are highly manipulative and toxic and the characters use each other for their own gain, while lacking a degree a emotional connection. Some of the darker themes in this story could have been better highlighted and discussed and the adults in this story certainly should have played a larger role in ensuring the mental and physical health of their students.
That said, the setting of this book is superb and this is the type of book one could compulsively read over a weekend. I thoroughly enjoyed the competitive aspect. You never knew what the characters would do next, especially Kate, to achieve their goals.
Overall, this book is a dark contemporary showing how cutthroat the world of ballet is. This book is psychologically taxing at times, but never ceases in dishing out the drama!
Trigger warning for eating disorders, mental illness, suicide, abortion, unclear sexual consent, and unhealthy romantic relationships and friendships.
Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review and inviting me to be a host on the blog tour.
Order Bright Burning Stars from these booksellers
Release Date: May 21st, 2019