Series: Tiny Pretty Things #1
Published by HarperTeen on May 26, 2015
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
How far is too far?
At one of Manhattan's most elite ballet schools, wafer-thin ballerinas pull their hair into sleek buns and lace their pointe shoes high, waiting for their chance to shine. But beneath the pretty, polished surface, these girls are hiding some terrible secrets and telling some twisted lies.
Privileged Bette is tiny and beautiful—like a ballerina in a music box. But living forever in the shadow of her ballet-star sister and under the weight of family expectations brings out a dangerous edge in her.
Perfectionist June can turn a flawless plié and diligently keeps her weight below 100 pounds. But she's never landed a lead role. Tired of always being the understudy, this year she'll settle for nothing but the best—even if she must resort to some less-than-perfect means to get there.
And new girl Gigi isn't your traditional ballerina. A free-spirited California girl, she's not used to the fierce competition. Still, that doesn't stop her from outperforming every dancer in the school. But even she is hiding a ticking time bomb, and the very act of dancing just might expose her secrets to everyone.
Being a prima isn't all satin and lace; sometimes you have to play dirty. With the competition growing fiercer with every performance, and harmless pranks growing ever darker, it's only a matter of time before one small spark ignites . . . and even the best get burned.
~ I have a thing for ballet. I’m honestly in awe of anyone that is so dedicated to something, and can make their bodies move in such a way that it’s art, possibly because I am the complete opposite of that. I love anything to do with dance- movies, plays, books- so bring it! Which is what Tiny Pretty Things did, it brought ballerinas with a Mean Girls/Gossip Girls/Center Stage/Fame mash up. And I quite liked it.
~ There are three main POV’s in this book: Gigi, Bette and June, but the book opens up with Cassie, about a year prior to the opening of the book. Cassie is dancing a lead role, despite her young age and maybe in part because she’s related to one of the school’s big wigs, and because of all this she has a very huge target on her back.
~ When the authors describe the dancer’s feet as having “constellations of blisters and bruises”, I was hooked. So, early on. If you’ve ever seen a ballet performance, or hell, an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, then it’s easy to only see the grace and beauty of the dance. But there’s so much pain, so much effort and work and Olympic athlete type training and dedication that goes into what we see. I can’t imagine having that kind of determination at such a young age, at 17 years old, I just wanted to sleep as much as possible and avoid my parents. I was on the Reading Team, but I can honestly say that no real extra effort was required on my part. Sitting on my ass reading is something I was just born to do.
~ There are a lot of characters, and my notes are riddled with characters I’m not going to bother to mention simply because there are so many of them. Only the principal dancers count anyways. 😉
~ The book and events take place at ABC- the American Ballet Conservatory, which is part school, all ballet. Honestly, the school part is mentioned, but none of the dancers really care. And only June’s mom even seems to think it matters.
~ Bette practically grew up at ABC. She is very much an ice blonde princess, but she’s dancing in the shadows of her older sister Adele, who was the lead in all the things when she was Bette’s age. Bette pretends to be nice, but she’s actually a Mean Girl masquerading (poorly) as a nice girl. Seriously, Alec, you’re a dumbass.
~ Gigi is the new girl, and she’s got several strikes against her. First, she’s the only black girl in a school that models itself on Russian ballet, who prefer their dancers to be icy blondes, like Bette. Secondly, she’s from California and way different from everyone else. She’s use to dancing with ballerinas who respect and support one another. She’s an innocent lamb brought to the slaughter. And thirdly, she’s got some mysterious ailment that could end her dancing career at any moment.
~ June is the third ballerina, and like Bette, she’s been at ABC for a long time. She’s half Korean and half Who’s My Daddy?. Her mother was a dancer, but she is very non-supportive of her daughter’s dreams. She won’t tell June who her father is, only that he was white. And she pretty much threatens to pull her out of ABC unless she lands a lead dance role.
~ These girls are under so much pressure. Bette was the least likeable, but it was hard not to feel a teeny bit sad for her as she watches Gigi literally dance away with the life Bette thought she was going to have. Gigi has to deal with constant stress of medical ailments and cruel pranks played on her. And June, poor girl, has an eating disorder, a horrible ex-roommate, boy problems, and a mysterious father and a heinous mom. I did a lot of cringing while reading this book, and I would not trade places with a single character in this book. But, like the Gossip Girl books, I couldn’t help but read about their misfortune with a certain voyeuristic glee usually reserved for members of the paparazzi. Sigh, I should probably seek therapy, but I’ll settle for a sequel.
~ Not that this is a perfect book. I had some problems. I didn’t love any of the characters. I liked Bette, despite her mega-bitchattude, and I don’t like that I liked her, it reflects badly on me. I felt like Gigi went from Pollyanna to Crazytown at warp speed. I would have been fine if June had flipped and gone Lizzie Borden on her mom and Sei-Jin, but I saw the identity of her dad coming a mile away. The boys, all of them, annoyed the crap out of me. Alec, one of the few straight guys, immediately fell for Gigi just because she was super sweet and I was super rolling my eyes. And I think he shafted Bette big time. He was also an idiot. Henri was interesting, but I’d still like to know more about him. Will was crazy. Like, flat out, nuts. His reason for disliking Bette was a little too Single White Female for my tastes. And I could not have been more angry when the boys are all like “Those ballerina girls are all so crazy and mean and petty and vengeful, but us boys are civilized and we just suck it up when we don’t get the role we want”. I seriously doubt that. Yes, girls can be awful, but I do not believe the guys are all so chill. I also have a tiny problem with Gigi’s mom signing her up to dance as a little girl and thinking it wouldn’t be strenuous.
~ Did any of these issues stop me from enjoying this book? Hell, no! I want this to be picked up by the CW, and I want to watch it on my tv as I shovel enough buttery popcorn in my mouth that June and Bette would feel the urge to purge just thinking about what I’m eating. There had seriously better be a sequel.
Gigi- our every girl protagonist. She’s the odd one out, but she’s the golden girl this year. Harbors some secrets.
Bette- top girl at ABC until Gigi shows up. Harbors a lot of dark secrets and is slightly evil.
June- the quiet observer who collects everyone’s secrets, and is sitting on a few of her own.
Cassie- Alec’s cousin, away after losing it last year.
Alec- Bette’s on again/off again beau and Big Man on Campus. I know he’s supposed to be Prince Charming (or at least the Nutcracker Prince) but I just found him annoying.
Henri- French dancer, Cassie’s ex-boyfriend and mysterious lurker.
Will- super inappropriate dude. Wonderful dancer, but the Russians don’t like his less than masculine persona.
Sei-Jin- June’s former roommate and hateful POS. There, I said it. Hated her.
Eleanor- Bette’s roommate, slowly moving up after being Bette’s understudy for years (in all things).
Liz- one of Cassie’s frenemies/tormentors, and too thin dancer.
Adele- Bette’s lovely, talented and successful older sister- she’s everything Bette longs to be.
Jayhe- old friend of June’s and Sei-Jin’s boyfriend.
Mr. K- one of the main teachers and the one who holds the dancer’s dreams in his hands, often crushing them at his own perverse whim. Sigh.
It’s just a small moment, but there’s a scene where a character sews weights into her dance clothes in order to skate buy a mandatory weigh-in. That just struck me as realistically awful.
Stop the Clock:
If you like ballet and Mean Girls, then this book is for you. I was all over the place emotionally while reading this book- all three girls are so messed up. I wanted them each to get what they wanted most, but it was impossible because there was no way for all of them to be happy at once. There was a level of mystery that I enjoyed, and the ending left me screeching for a sequel. I assume there’s going to be one. I could be wrong, but there had better be a sequel, or I will make Bette look like a lamb.
Tiny Pretty Things gets a Midnight Book rating of: