push through pain,
dance, dance… down.
Ballet classes during her blissful childhood in the 1970s set Siena on her life path. Dancing becomes an escape from the sixth-grade mean girls, from missing her big brother when he leaves Puerto Rico for Boston, from Mom and Dad fighting.
Audition for the School of American Ballet? Live in New York City? School with real friends? All wonderful (except leaving Dad back in San Juan).
Siena wants to be a ballerina more than anything, so that means total dedication, practice, and more practice. Summer ballet schools in and out of New York State as she grows just a little taller than is acceptable for the parts that she longs to dance, spotlight roles that go to her classmates.
An ankle injury forces her to sit out some practices at the New York City Ballet company, just as auditions for the next level are starting – the other girls will get ahead! A little pain is worth the chance to advance, right?
No time for boyfriends or hobbies… even in her dreams, she dances.
No carbs, no desserts – a ballerina’s physique is sleek and svelte…or else.
As her ankle’s healing slows and stalls, Siena’s self-confidence dwindles, and the teen feels trapped by expectations, like turning into a statue instead of a whirling, feather-light dancer.
This graphic novel memoir starts with light and lively lavender colors showcasing Siena’s early days, becoming darker and heavier as she struggles with what could possibly come after ballet, the tutu-clad ghost of her young dreams hovering over many sequences.
Where have your childhood dreams taken you?
Book info: Tiny Dancer / Siena Cherson Siegel; art by Mark Siegel; backgrounds by Abe Erskine. Atheneum, 2021. [author bio] [artist site] [publisher site] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.