Y’all I’m SO excited to share this post today! I’ve partnered with Algonquin Young Readers as part of their blog tour to tell y’all about Bright Burning Stars by A. K. Small, a novel about two young ballerinas who learn just how far they’ll go to win the ultimate prize. This dynamic, engaging novel is being rereleased in paperback TODAY and if it’s not on your TBR yet, it totally should be. Here’s why…
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.
Though I’m partnering with Algonquin Young Readers for this post, this has in no way influenced my review or opinions of the book. My thoughts are entirely my own, as always.
(PS: I’d like to offer a content warning for eating disorders, substance abuse, and abortion. I don’t discuss any of these topics in my review, but they do appear in the novel.)
what I liked:
The beautiful, inventive language. If you’ve been around for a while, you know how much I love when an author crafts unique, unexpected prose. Small created a narrative that’s ultimately supported by its language. Another thing I think is so cool about this book is that, since the book takes place in Paris, the characters are actually speaking French and we get to read it in “translation.” Small captured the fluidity and poetry of the French language in her writing.
The dance environment. As a dancer myself, I found a lot of comfort in the elements of ballet and the culture of the dance world that Small injected into this story. Small herself is a trained dancer and brought so much knowledge and depth to this narrative. It’s easy to tell that she’s an expert world-builder because she perfectly honed the cutthroat, acerbic culture of pre-professional dance.
The characters’ complexity. There’s a sense of cause and effect in this story so that each action, each choice, each development wholly aligns with who each character is and their core desires. I especially loved how Marine and Kate’s characters react to each other, pushing the story along as they spiral and recover at different times in the novel. So cool to read.
you might like… the bridgerton reading list
what I didn’t care for:
The ending. After such a complex and dynamic story, I found the ending a little too optimistic. Spoilers suck, so I won’t say any more than that.
Y’all you’ve got to pick up this book. It’s a beautiful, gut-wrenching story about growth, friendship, love, and what it means to define your own success. Highly recommend for all my dancer friends and anyone who wants a story that’s equal parts glitter and grit.
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