Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: May 26, 2015
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars in this soapy, drama-packed novel featuring diverse characters who will do anything to be the prima at their elite ballet school. 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."
Imagine a really competitive ballet school in Manhattan filled with some of the country's best dancers. Sounds like a cut-throat place where every dancer is vieing for a place in the New York American Ballet Company, right? It is just how I imagined it and even more so. Three very different girls all go to school there and have secrets that they are hiding. First there is Gigi, a recent transfer from California. She is the school's only African American student and her success angers many disgruntled ballerinas, especially when she is casted the coveted roll of Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Bette, a former favorite, usually gets her way and doesn't take Gigi's success well. She is coniving, scheming and backstabbing. Then there's E-Jun, otherwise known as June, and her mother, a former ballerina, has been threatening to take her out of ballet school and send her to a regular public school where she can get a better, more well-rounded education unless she starts getting lead roles. This sends E-Jun over the edge and she puts even more pressure on herself. All three girls, although very different, share the desire of success which always comes at a high cost. Sonia Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton's debut, Tiny Pretty Things, despite its length, was a real page turner that fans of Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl and Black Swan will enjoy.
I can't say I really liked any of the characters, although I sympathized with Gigi the most. Despite this, I was completely absorbed with the story. Bette and June were the most interesting to me, because they are so morally corrupt at times and tragically flawed. Bette is addicted to pills and can't handle life's ups and downs, especially when Gigi takes over the best roles and even starts seeing her ex-boyfriend. Then there's June, who is obviously anorexic, and has a rivalary with her ex-best friend who downright harasses her at school. I mean cue all the mean girls in Tiny Pretty Things. They are pretty horrible to one another in this book, but I think the competitive nature of the school cultivates this sort of behavior and brings out the worst in some people.
Tiny Pretty Things is a glimpse into the competitive ballet world and I was completely addicted. The violence, the back-stabbing, the gossip, the parental pressure....it was all really fascinating even though mean girls really aren't my favorite.
What I enjoyed most about Tiny Pretty Things was the cast of multi-cultural characters from various backgrounds. It wasn't just about Caucasian ballerinas with trust funds as one might expect. I was pleasantly surprised by the diverse group of girls; simply put, we need more of this in YA.
Even though I didn't fall head over heels in love with Tiny Pretty Things, I still can't deny how entertaining it was despite the mean-girl antics. If you love Pretty Little Liars and want to be thrown into the cut-throat world of competitive ballet, then you should definitely check out this book this summer. It would make for a great poolside read.