Friday, July 17, 2015

look at her go: reviewin' reviewin': tiny pretty things

Name: Tiny Pretty Things
Authors: Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton

synopsis: 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.

Full non-spoilery review under the cut!
This was a super interesting read for me. From literally the first ten pages, I was completely hooked, barely able to put the book down in the less-than-24-hour time period that I was reading it in. Sometimes hard to read, painful, unfair- but ridiculously addictive and entertaining all the same. I'd never read something about ballet, though I have a vague knowledge of the difficulty and competitiveness that comes with the lifestyle, and that was something new, which I definitely appreciated.

I know next to nothing about ballet, but I have a healthy appreciation for the fact that ballet requires the ability to make the most painful moves in the world look completely effortless and graceful. I think it is one of the hardest things to do at a high level, and reading from the perspective of the girls in this book just cemented those thoughts. They are three high school students who attend a prestigious ballet academy, practicing for upwards of six hours a day in their craft, all with sights set on becoming a company dancer, even a prima ballerina. In their quest for greatness, they all encounter obstacles, and have to make decisions for themselves about how to deal with them. It is drama, drama, DRAMA, with backstabbing and boy problems and eating disorders and drug abuse all thrown in, and all against the gorgeous backdrop of the ballet. Like I said, that was enough to hook me, but I really was fascinated with learning about these characters, all deep and deeply flawed, and was eager to follow their stories. 

Bette, main character number one, has been at the Academy for almost as long as she can remember. She has always been the princess, the star of her age group and even above it, following in the footsteps of her prodigiously talented older sister Adele. Her family is influential, her boyfriend, Alec, is perfect, and she has always been able to count on her talent to get her through. Until a new girl sweeps in, taking Bette's roles, her friends and even her boyfriend, without even seeming to try. Needless to say, Bette does not take this well. She is sometimes portrayed as the bully, the mean girl, the pathetic one with a need for attention, but honestly, I couldn't bring myself to hate her as much as I wanted to. She had everything she thought was important taken away from her at the least expected time, and she felt wronged by the teachers, by her alcoholic mother, by the world. She didn't handle this in the best way, (with drug abuse and backstabbing) but I could understand why she was unraveled. The huge drama at the end of the book (no spoilers!) lands Bette in some deep trouble, and I can only hope that there is a sequel, so we can tie up some loose ends with that whole situation. (if you've read it, then you know what I'm talking about!) 

June, protag number two, has always had a rough time. Out of the three main characters, I felt for June the most. Raised in a single parent home with a strict Korean mother and no clue as to whom her father is, other than the fact that he is what makes her only half Korean, she has dealt with the pressure that her mother puts on her to stop dancing since she came to the academy. Though she has the talent and the drive, she isn't outgoing, doesn't look like the typical blonde hair blue eyed ballerina, (like Bette), and never lands the principle roles. She got exiled from her friend group after her former best friend started a horrible rumor about her a few years before the opening of the novel, and she has bulimia and just all around troubles with eating. So yeah, her life has pretty much sucked up to this point. However, dancing is the one thing that brings her joy, so she works harder and harder, with more discipline than I can even comprehend, to get what she wants: a principle role.She is single minded and sometimes she really actually scared me, and I was so frustrated with her determination to keep her weight UNDER 100 pounds, but I really did feel sorry for her, and I was glad that there was a bit of triumph for June at the end of the novel. 

Gigi, our third POV girl, is new to the Academy. She is a free-spirited California girl with no friends in New York, and the fact that her dancing is flawless isn't doing her any good in the friend department. Gigi is the most sympathetic character, in that she isn't mean or vindictive or cold, but that doesn't mean that she is uninteresting in the slightest. She manages to snag the role of the sugar plum fairy in the winter ballet, then snags Alec's heart from under Bette's nose in the process. Though she doesn't try to offend people, the more luck that swings her way, the more the other girls don't care for her. Still, Gigi is sweet and kind, up until the very end, when something very wrong is done to her. She also has a hole in her heart, which means that every time she dances could be her last time, and she has loving parents who worry constantly over her condition. Her love for ballet runs deep, and she says that she'd rather have one year dancing than a life without it. I don't know that I necessarily liked Gigi best, because some of the other characters were super interesting, but all of them were pretty awful, but she is a very sympathetic character in the novel. 

There are three boys in this book, and two of them are pretty much still mysteries to me, even after this (pretty long) novel. Alec, Bette's ex, Gigi's current boyfriend, is sweet and devoted to Gigi for the latter majority of the novel, and I actually liked him despite reservations over his sincerity at the beginning. He is pretty blind to Bette's mean spiritedness, but he has a good heart, and he is an amazing dancer. Will is red-headed, emotional and gay, in love with his best friend Alec, former best friend of Bette until an incident with a girl named Cassie drove a wedge between them. Will is mysterious to me because he harbors so much hatred for Bette, always tells Gigi "be careful," and is in love with Alec. I don't know what his motivations are or what he is willing to do to make Bette look bad. The third boy is Henri, boyfriend to the girl that Bette and Will hurt the year before, French, ballet star, onto Bette's involvement in the accident with his former girlfriend. He accuses Bette one minute, hooks up with her the next, and is all around pushy and sketchy to me. Like I said, I really really hope that there is another novel, because I really don't think I have a good grasp on some of the characters, and there is so much left to be revealed. 

As for the plot, it takes place over a school year, and just involves so much drama, it wouldn't even benefit you for me to go into it. Everyone wants what everyone else has, being perfect is the name of the game, and when you're different, like Gigi or June, you are prone to get the short end of the stick. Pranks are played and hearts are broken, accusations made, lots of pills taken, and much obsessing over weight and parental expectations. There is even the suggestion of teacher student hookups. Basically every type of drama you can think of, it is included in this novel. It could feel absolutely ridiculous, and at some points it does feel like it spins a little out of control, but its so fascinating, like a car wreck you can't look away from. If you want something that will keep you occupied, a thrilling read for curling up at night or by the pool, I think that this would be a perfect read for you. Just be prepared to be taken for a ride!


  1. This sounds like a really promising read, Sunny!

    Just wanted to let you know I've nominated you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! :) -->

    1. thank you so much jody!!! i'll take a peek at this when i get a chance :) this just made my day!!!!


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