cover image Bright Burning Stars

Bright Burning Stars

A.K. Small. Algonquin, $17.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-61620-878-3

Marine Duval and Kate Sanders are best friends and First Division dancers at a premier ballet school in Paris. The girls, best friends since they were 12, are both vying for “The Prize,” an invitation to join the Paris Opera’s corps de ballet, presented to the top female and male dancer in the school’s top division. Written in the alternating voices of Marine and Kate, Small’s debut delves into the physical and emotional strains required by the world of competitive dance. Both girls cope differently with the extreme stress and bitter competition: Marine struggles with her body image and pushes herself to the brink of starvation, while Kate begins to experiment with drugs. Adding to the tension is the school’s best male dancer, known to the girls as “the Demigod.” Kate sees him as her ticket to the top spot, but when Marianne captures his attention, the girls’ friendship begins to fray. Small, a trained ballerina, infuses her novel with dance terminology and French phrases, giving the reader a sense of the milieu. And while much of the focus of this novel is dance, the heart of the story is about the lengths one will go to realize a dream. Ages 14–up. Agent: Wendi Gu, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. [em](May) [/em]