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Girl Through Glass: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 26, 2016
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“A tragic depiction of a girl adored far too soon by a grown-up world…Artfully rendered through the viewpoint of an adolescent dancer who performs with great maturity while remaining fatefully naïve...So visceral, so real.” (Washington Post)
“Masterful…Wilson’s New York City imagery is applied exquisitely and dynamically…In the end, the well-honed story line of GIRL THROUGH GLASS is not unlike a certain kind of stylized psychological ballet, á la Antony Tudor, with heightened characters dancing along dire boundaries. Powerfully stark.” (Los Angeles Review of Books)
“A haunting portrait of obsession, ambition, sacrifice, and the secrets one woman thought she left in the past.” (Buzzfeed)
“A nimble, nuanced psychological drama that leaps through time and place with an appropriate and assured agility...Wilson speaks with vibrant authority and acute vulnerability as she exposes the conflicted and competitive behind-the-scenes world of professional ballet.” (Booklist (starred review))
“Intense and mesmerizing.” (People Magazine)
“The book’s subject is less the ballet itself than the costs of early virtuosity—the feeling of being propelled by a force you don’t understand and can’t control—and the dangerous intoxication of the perfect, weightless moments when everything but ‘air, motion, height’ falls away.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Few novels have affected me as deeply as Sari Wilson’s GIRL THROUGH GLASS…I loved, loved, loved this novel. So much so that I hid from my kids in the bathroom so I could read it!” (Joanna Rakoff, author of MY SALINGER YEAR)
“Powerful. Gripping. Incandescent…As powerful storytelling kept me turning the pages, Wilson’s extraordinary voice whispered to me about the things that both bind and divide us: desire, ambition and love. This book will stay in my heart for a long time.” (Jean Kwok, New York Times bestselling author of GIRL IN TRANSLATION)
“Wilson’s take on the New York City dance scene is pungent and vivid and slyly satirical…This novel of a girl who grows up way too soon is deftly plotted and beautifully written, and is about as suspenseful and affecting as a coming-of-age story can be.” (Daniel Orozco, author of ORIENTATION AND OTHER STORIES)
“An astonishing debut. At once chilling and sensual, furious and tender, GIRL THROUGH GLASS…will leave you haunted, mesmerized, and wanting more. I loved it.” (Elizabeth L. Silver, author of THE EXECUTION OF NOA P. SINGLETON)
“Only a writer of very remarkable gifts could have the stylistic brilliance, the athletic daring, speed, power of ellipsis, the leap—to tell this dark story correctly, and to bring to life its principals…In her stunning first novel, Sari Wilson has done just this.” (Jaimy Gordon, author of LORD OF MISRULE, Winner of the National Book Award)
“GIRL THROUGH GLASS explores a lost New York through the eyes of a gifted young dancer struggling to harness the ecstatic power she wields…Lush with the shame and exhilaration that lie at the lip of adolescence, Sari Wilson’s debut novel bravely explores the risks of celebrating precocity.” (Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, New York Times bestselling author of BITTERSWEET )
“Sari Wilson has created a dark and beautiful world in these pages filled with complex and fascinating characters. GIRL THROUGH GLASS is an impressive debut novel that will thrill readers with its steadily mounting tension, which builds, layer upon layer, to a surprising and satisfying conclusion.” (John Searles, bestselling author of HELP FOR THE HAUNTED and STRANGE BUT TRUE )
“In her lyrical debut novel, GIRL THROUGH GLASS, Sari Wilson explores the beauty and complexity of time and the emergence of a woman’s identity. This engrossing story, told with great artistry, captures the romance and rigor of art-making. Sari’s prose is balletic: elegant, musical, and captivating.” (Ruth Ozeki, bestselling author of A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING, shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award)
“A debut novel of exceptional daring and verve, Sari Wilson’s GIRL THROUGH GLASS is a chilling, evocative portrait of the 1970s New York dance world and the young lives it consumed.” (Kate Walbert, author of OUR KIND, National Book Award finalist)
“…an intense, engrossing novel.” (National Review)
“Uniformly engrossing…Mira and Maurice’s relationship has the fairy tale feel of Beauty and the Beast, but the pages brim with the realism of gritty, crime-riddled New York…Surprising and bittersweet…elevates the coming-of-age story with a dark undercurrent about the cost of obsession.” (Publishers Weekly)
“An absorbing novel, rich with detail both about ballet and New York. Alongside the unusual setting of Mira’s realm of dance are the…emotional struggles of a young woman dealing with adolescence, complicated by precocious talent…For readers who appreciate complex characters and a carefully crafted style.” (Library Journal)
“Compelling…Mira’s story is fueled by a rage that burns intensely; the sacrifice, the dark side of her pursuit, will touch readers to the core…This portrayal of a ballerina’s transformation and sacrifice burns with the beauty of fire: it’s powerful, it’s destructive, and it dares you to try and look away.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“…a complex coming-of-age debut.” (The Week)
“Poignant, dark and powerfully written…” (PureWow)
“Wonderful…Sari’s writing is a thing of beauty; her expressions are refreshing and original… She exposes the stark realities of the ballet world with an authenticity that will make real ballerinas nod in agreement, and delivers it in a beautifully written story about characters I came to love.” (InsideBallet.com)
From the Back Cover
An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age in thecutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence
In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parents’ divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.
Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.
In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.
Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author clearly writes from a knowledgeable viewpoint about the 1970s, ballet, the School of American Ballet, and New York City. I enjoyed the two narrative viewpoints and how the plot lines were woven together, as well as the many details about the young protagonist's training. I'm not sure I can relate to (empathize with?) her personality, which seems to have been formed from her being alternatively abandoned and coddled at exactly the wrong times. (Is she mildly sociopathic?)
But there are so many details Wilson gets right that I found myself willing to overlook my inability to resonate with Mira. Lines like "But Robin's thinness is an ethereal slightness, whereas this girl's thinness is one of will" just slayed me with their simple cutting to the truth of the harsh realities of the ballet world.
I'm not sure I ever understood Mira's attraction to her older suitor. From an intellectual standpoint, I understand that he has a kind of Svengali hold over her, but I was never made to feel the reason why. My only other critique of the book is the spelling of the ballet term "tendu" as "tondue." I'm not sure if that was supposed to be an attempt at a Russian accent or a typo. In a ballet book with so many other accurate minute details, that word stuck out rather loudly.
Overall an engaging read, with wonderful details about the world of elite NYC dancers in the '70s (mentioning David Howard's studio and Steps was, for example, a nice touch). Even if you are a generation younger, you will appreciate these descriptions, many of which are still true today.
But, this debut novel is also about the generic dysfunctional family unit, which oft begets dysfunctional children, who can emerge from adolescence as weighted baggage carrying adults.
Wilson uses the ever popular mechanism of dual, converging time periods when first introducing the story of early teen Mira, circa late 1970’s, the potential prima ballerina, a hopeful anointed “B girl”, being the envied hand-picked choice of George Balanchine, the director of the School of American Ballet in New York City. The novel's other protagonist, Kate, a former dancer, is a middle-aged woman who hides her secrets in the shadows of academia in contemporary Ohio. It’s not difficult to understand what commonality these two women share, though I think the author penned the mystery with hopes that it might have been a longer lived secret?
This novel should appeal to men as well as women; even if you’re not familiar with the rigors of top tier ballet performance, just imagine having to play your own sport hurt, as is expected of you by your coaches (choreographer/dance instructors) and your teammates (corps de ballet). And, you will play (dance) hurt, with broken toes, sprained ankle, torn ligaments, stress fractures, oozing blisters, and often calorie deprived if a slender physique is a requirement…but here, in ballet, you're also required to do it with a smile, without revealing the pain, the suffering, because that’s what your adoring audience expects of you. And, in ballet, you start pushing the outer bounds of your body’s limits well before you’re a fully developed adult…as we see with Mira, who we're introduced to at 11 years old.
My mother and sister have been Spring series subscribers to the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) for over 30 years; even though I’m not in the audience with them, their accounting of the performances they've viewed over time are vicariously enjoyed. And, as an aged athlete, I’m quite aware of the male dancers of the era of my young adulthood, who exposed Americans to the majesty of ballet when performed by the likes of Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Peter Martins, or Alexander Godunov. They were forces of nature, athletes of the highest order.
If you find that you’ve enjoyed "Girl Through Glass", then I would also recommend “Dancer” by renown literary fiction author, Colum McCann, a novel about the salacious life of Russian ballet great, Rudolf Nureyev, and Kathryn Craft’s novel, “The Art of Falling”.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you are someone who really loved the movie 'Black Swan' and was lucky to catch the now canceled 'Flesh and Bone' TV series about ballet (strange it...Read more