From School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In this novel set in the ballet and modern dance world of 1959, hardworking, penniless Casey Quinn journeys from South Carolina to New York City to realize her dreams. The teen uses a wonderfully active voice in tune with her physical nature in her present-tense narrative, e.g., "My stomach quivers like a raw egg." Casey's stubborn can-do personality is nicely enhanced by interactions with multidimensional side characters, such as her selfless good cook of a grandma and a snobby, rich peer. Casey faces grief, loss, and many other tribulations, but she overcomes these obstacles, has some really good luck, ingratiates herself with the right people, and ultimately earns a role in a performance with the Martha Graham Company. At first glance the historical details appear suitably contextualized, although in romanticizing the era the author omits historical accuracy on a great many fronts: e.g., the famously curt George Balanchine is depicted as kind and the School of American Ballet inhabits a grandiose building rather than the plain building it actually occupied in 1959. Nonetheless, many collections will welcome this spunky '50s heroine and her introduction to the world of modern dance.-Rhona Campbell, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC α(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When Casey hears of an open ballet audition in New York City, the poor South Carolina girl with no formal dance training decides to battle for a spot. She knows in her heart that she is a natural dancer, born for the stage. How she winds up not a ballerina but a student of real-life modern dance doyenne Martha Graham forms the crux of this pleasant story set in 1959. The novel is at its strongest when describing Graham’s powerful personality and the intense work needed to succeed as a dancer. Casey is a sympathetic character who says of her passion, “The way I am dancing on the inside. The way I am flying. It is like no dance in the world. It is better.” Despite doses of melodrama—Casey’s rival is a mean girl from her hometown, and her beloved grandmother dies before she can see Casey on stage—this is a good recommendation for fans of reality-TV dancing competitions, as well as aficionados of stories about striving to succeed in the arts. Grades 6-9. --Karen Cruze