Saturday, February 24, 2024

Four books that juxtapose the beauty and ugliness of ballet

Tammy Greenwood is the acclaimed author of fifteen novels and a four-time winner of the San Diego Book Award. Six of her novels have been Indie Next Picks, including her most recent, The Still Point, an “intimate journey into the exclusive world of ballet” (Mary Kubica) inspired by her own experiences as the mother of a professional dancer. Revolving around the cutthroat hothouse of a California dance school, it is both a love letter to the world of ballet and a challenge to its toxic hierarchies, intense competition, and dark drive towards perfection that pushes girls – and their families – to their physical and emotional extremes. Greenwood and her family split their time between Vermont and San Diego, where she teaches creative writing for The Writer's Center and San Diego Writers, Ink.

[My Book, The Movie: Rust and StardustThe Page 69 Test: Rust and StardustWriters Read: T. Greenwood (August 2019)The Page 69 Test: Keeping LucyMy Book, The Movie: Keeping LucyQ&A with T. GreenwoodThe Page 69 Test: Such a Pretty Girl]

At CrimeReads Greenwood tagged four ballet "books—two novels and two non-fiction—which seek to peel back the satin and reveal the tender pain beneath." One title on the list:
They’re Going to Love You by Meg Howrey

Like [Sari Wilson's] Girl Through Glass, Meg Howrey’s novel, They’re Going to Love You is about a former SAB student, though this novel is a dual timeline novel set in the present and in the 1980s. Howrey, a former professional ballerina herself, is at the top of her game in this novel about the futility of ambition in a world which rejects anyone who does not fit ballet’s physical ideal. I have read this book twice—and the second time I took note of the sadness underlying the story. Carlisle’s love of dance, in the end, is no match for the narrow definitions of what make a “ballet body.” The novel is about much more than this, of course; it is not only about art and ambition but also about family secrets and legacy. But Howrey truly captures the exclusiveness of the ballet world, and the pain of one dancer’s exclusion.
Read about another entry on the list.

They’re Going to Love You is among Lindsay Lynch's eight books that deliver behind-the-scenes drama.

--Marshal Zeringue