If you’re a fan of ballet, or just a really good, well-told story with lots of suspense, you’ll love GIRL THROUGH GLASS. The novel releases tomorrow, and you can enter a giveaway here (see bottom of post).
The novel goes back and forth between Mira, an eleven-year-old ballet student living in New York in the late 1970s, and Kate, a dance historian and college professor living in Ohio in the present day. It doesn’t take long to realize Kate and Mira are the same person, but the novel’s central mystery is the story of that transformation.
Mira is a ballet student whose love of the art form becomes all the more intense after her family life starts to unravel. Her hippy-esque mother runs off to California, and her father soon becomes involved with another, very plain woman who has little aesthetic sensibility and respect for dance, seeing ballet mainly as an eating disorder waiting to happen. Mira meets an older man named Maurice, a patron of New York City Ballet, who is crippled by polio. When Mira is accepted to the prestigious School of American Ballet, Maurice becomes her main support, as she navigates this hyper competitive world. Through hard work, raw talent, and advice from Maurice, who tells her she can’t achieve beauty without sacrifice, Mira becomes a favorite of George Balanchine (A Mr. B girl), and she’s cast in lots of coveted roles for young dancers, such as Marie in his Nutcracker. At one point, Mr. B even remarks that Mira reminds him of “Tanny” – Tanaquil Le Clercq, a star NYCB dancer, and partner of Balanchine, who was in her prime when she was tragically stricken with polio. This foreshadows Mira’s impending downfall.
When Kate receives a mysterious letter she is compelled to return to the New York of her childhood, to try to make amends with her past. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s a really intense story about loss of self, broken dreams, recovery, and reinvention. I couldn’t put it down. And, for dance fans, it’s chock full of details about what it was like to live during the Balanchine era, by far the most exciting period in ballet history in this country. Mira’s story made me feel like I was there with her. And Kate’s narrative made me so sad for what she had lost but hopeful that she could find the same intense passion in her adult life that she had in her childhood. That’s the best kind of fiction in my opinion, when the reader begins to live the main character’s story.
The winner of the giveaway will receive a hardcover signed by Ms. Wilson, who is a former dancer from New York. It will ship directly from HarperCollins. To enter, just comment below, or on the post on my Facebook page. The winner will be announced next Monday, February 1, and I’ll collect the address then. Good luck!