Author: Michaela and Elaine De Prince
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Source: received for review (thanks, A&U!)
Orphaned by war, saved by ballet.
Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. But there is hope: the Harmattan wind blows a magazine through the orphanage gates. Michaela picks it up and sees a beautiful image of a young woman dancing.
And then Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela can take the dance lessons she’s dreamed of since finding her picture.
Life in the States isn’t without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it’s haunting her.
And yet, today, Michaela is an international ballet star.
A heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future.
I don’t know what it is about ballet, but I’m kind of obsessed with reading about it. Not that that happens often – Mao’s Last Dancer by Li Cunxin is pretty much the only book I’ve read. There needs to be more fiction!!
So I ended up comparing this to Mao’s Last Dancer pretty often.
I guess that was inevitable. They’re both about dancing and they’re both memoirs and they’re both about kids who grow up in difficult circumstances before coming to the US. But it’s not like I’m going to say one’s better than the other. Both are amazing.
Anyway so this is the story of Mabinty Bangura, also known as
Michaela De Prince.
Reading of her story before she went to America was…really sad, actually. And these things are still happening all over the world – it’s easy to forget that. But what I loved was Michaela’s steadfast determination to become a ballerina.
What I also loved was the family aspect (which we need more of in fiction, by the way – yes, I’m going to keep saying it).
Michaela’s parents, and her sister Mia? Oh my gosh. I was crying in some of this book. What they’re willing to do for each other is incredible. Honestly it kind of made me want to adopt a kid when I’m older.
Then again watching The Hundred Foot Journey made me want to open a restaurant so you never know what a story will make me do.
Michaela is an incredible role model for girls everywhere.
That’s what I’d tell Michaela if I ever met her. That I admire her dedication to becoming a ballerina, despite so many tragedies and mishaps along the way.
And racism is a big one.
Michaela begins to notice that all the ballerinas are white, and everything in the ballet world is fitted around that. I can’t even imagine how discouraging it would have been to never see someone like you in the world you wanted to be a part of.
And I know I’m going off-topic, but this is why representation is important. People reading Hope in a Ballet Shoe can see that someone else is like them – they’re not alone.
Sorry guys. I keep forgetting this is supposed to be a review. I’ll get off my soapbox now.
There’s quite a bit of ballet terminology in this one.
I did ballet for like two years – so I know pretty much nothing. I did a dance to Care Bears, people. Care Bears. I had a red tutu with a love heart sewn onto the front. It was brilliant.
But it didn’t hinder my understanding at all. So that was nice.
Actually I wish there could have been more of the dancing part.
The trouble I’ve always found with memoirs is that you never really become PART of the story – there’s a lot of telling. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I guess it’s why I’m a fiction person rather than non-fiction.
A beautiful story about loss, and hope, and following your dreams. Highly recommended.
Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties