Gigi, Bette, and June, three top students at an exclusive Manhattan ballet school, have seen their fair share of drama. Free-spirited new girl Gigi just wants to dance—but the very act might kill her. Privileged New Yorker Bette’s desire to escape the shadow of her ballet star sister brings out a dangerous edge in her. And perfectionist June needs to land a lead role this year or her controlling mother will put an end to her dancing dreams forever. When every dancer is both friend and foe, the girls will sacrifice, manipulate, and backstab to be the best of the best.
Disclaimer: There may be some things you consider be spoilers ahead. You have been warned.
Why we chose it: We’ve been hearing talking about the cutthroat ballerinas featured in this book and the all encompassing drama depicted between the cover. We couldn’t resist.
Review: When you twirl, you can slip and fall. It can be embarrassing, devastating, but it’s only when someone pushes you. When they put all their hate, all their jealousy into their palms and shove you it becomes life threatening. Much more dangerous because the act is dark and full of sickening intensity.
To begin with Tiny Pretty Things isn’t intoxicating, it doesn’t appeal to the darker aspects of your soul. They grey parts or the black stars that shine so bright in the face of drama or scandal or cruelty. It takes only a few pages to do that and then you’re twirling and you’re falling. Falling into the life of Gigi and the lives of June and Bette.
You quickly learn that ballet can be beautiful and you also learn that ballet can be ugly. There is treachery and jealousy, personally we had absolutely know problems with cutthroat characters showing themselves capable of anything. Destroy a girl and take her solo, destroy a friendship to hide what you did to take that girl’s solo.
It’s worth pointing out that Gigi is kind. She’s sweet and optimistic for the most part. She’s also the new girl. A target for her talent, for her skin colour, everyone expects her to be segregated to the most stereotypical role because Mr. K is predictable. Bette’s going to be the solo girl, she’ll follow in her sister’s footsteps because she’s the best. She knows it, everyone knows. And June, she’s sick of being the understudy. She’ll do anything to get it. She won’t let her feelings get in the way.
This is her life. This is all their lives. They’ll do anything to keep being ballerinas, but most importantly they’ll do anything to be the ballerina.
In multiple points of view we discovered that friendship and romance is often very complicated within the school. Alliances form and they crumble fast and hard. Tiny Pretty Things doesn’t do things halfway. There were times we felt uncomfortable with what would be done to hide a secret and during those times we’d stop and think
“Are we okay with continuing on with this book? Will there be a point where someone does something we just can’t deal with?”
The answers were yes and then no. Tiny Pretty Things is honest with it’s characters. It doesn’t gloss over their faults, not with Bette, June, Gigi or any of the others did the authors balk and make things pretty so people wouldn’t be offended or disgusted. June might stick her fingers down her throat and Bette might be popping pills, but you can’t shy away from them because teenagers do these things and it shouldn’t be covered up.
The romance subplots of which there are many fell flat at times for us. We couldn’t really get behind some of them. Although we admit whatever is going on with Will and Henri intrigued us greatly because each character is wrapped up in multiple threads of manipulation and secret keeping. It should be interesting to see what could come of it.
One aspect of the book that we particularly liked was how our favourite and least favourite characters were often interchangeable. We had mixed emotions towards all of them, because they’re not written to be loved and supported the way most central characters in young adult literature are.
June, Gigi and Bette brought about so many conflicting emotions.
Sometimes we liked how June was quiet and reluctantly devious. Sometimes we liked how despite herself she ended up liking Gigi. Sometimes we hated it.
Mostly we hated how obsessively cheery Gigi was because it’s just preposterous for us for someone to find so many ways to passively accept the things that happened to her. We absolutely loved the times she broke down and exploded in rage. They were beautiful and broken moments of a girl pushed too far.
Bette’s psychotic acts provided us with giddy madness because even as she unraveled and lost everything she was plotting and scheming and doing pretty much anything to get herself back in control. It was endearing in a dark kind of way.
One thing we didn’t like about the characters as a collective because it’s something we fail to grasp in real life is how people who practically hate each other and want to hurt each other willingly spend time together. It astounds us, but we can overlook it because of all the plot twists it provided. Things we never saw coming.
Throughout the book, but specifically during the final lines of the book we read the words before us and then read them again. We couldn’t believe what was happening! Shocking events that left us reeling.
Those final lines though…they’ve opened up a whole world of theories from us as to where the two authors will take the second book and it’s likely we’re going to be miles off with our guesses.
In all Tiny Pretty Things is a book that gives you diversity and presents it as how we know it to be. Normal. It shows that teenagers have problems and they have drive. Not everyone has a wonderful life because they were born into privilege and not everything is always as perfect as it seems.
Throughout the book stereotypical perceptions were challenged and we relished it. To see behind the beauty and into the darkness that lurks within was amazing. We recommend this book to everyone who can handle the cutthroat and sometimes dangerous reality of competitive life.
One very important thing that we’re coming away from this book with is that you shouldn’t lie to yourself. It benefits no one. We’re going to read book two as soon as physically possible.
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