Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina

Michaela and Elaine DePrince. Knopf, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-75511-5
A compelling narrative of the journey of an African orphan whose hard work, emotional strength, and supportive adoptive American parents helped her build a life as a professional dancer, 19-year-old Michaela DePrince’s memoir, coauthored by her mother, holds many stories. Chapters on Michaela’s early childhood in Africa present a powerful portrait of family love and affection set against horrific images of the violence enacted by rebels in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Later chapters offer a close look at the ups and downs of adapting to life in America for the four African girls Elaine DePrince and her husband ultimately adopted. The book’s strong thread is Michaela’s lifelong passion for ballet and her candid depiction of the physical and emotional struggles of becoming a black classical ballerina. There is plenty of ballet detail for dance lovers to revel in, and the authors achieve a believable, distinctive teenage voice with a nice touch of lyrical description: “I... learned that pain, like the green of the jungle leaves, comes in many shades.” Photos not seen by PW. Ages 12–up. Agent: Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (Oct.) ■
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 10/14/2014
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-385-75514-6
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