Bright Burning Stars by A.K. Small
Reviewed by Linz!
**We received an early copy from Algonquin books in exchange for an honest review. Our opinions are our own. We’d like to thank Algonquin and A.K. Small for the opportunity. This book comes out on May 21st and you can get it here**
Thanks to Algonquin Books for the ARC! I (Linz) frickin’ love ballet books, so i was more than happy to review for the blog tour.
Best friends Marine Duval and Kate Sanders have trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School since childhood, where they’ve formed an inseparable bond forged by respective family tragedies and a fierce love for dance. When the body of a student is found in the dorms just before the start of their final year, Marine and Kate begin to ask themselves what they would do to win the ultimate prize: to be the one girl selected to join the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet. Would they die? Cheat? Seduce the most talented boy in the school, dubbed the Demigod, hoping his magic would make them shine, too? Neither girl is sure.
But then Kate gets closer to the Demigod, even as Marine has begun to capture his heart. And as selection day draws near, the competition—for the prize, for the Demigod—becomes fiercer, and Marine and Kate realize they have everything to lose, including each other.
In Bright Burning Stars, debut author A. K. Small pens a stunning, propulsive story about girls at their physical and emotional extremes, the gutting power of first love, and what it means to fight for your dreams.
What it’s about: Kate and Marine are besties/dancers at an elite Parisin ballet academy, where dancers compete for a spot in the pro dance company. How hard will these girls push themselves to earn that prize?
What I drank: Just a casual night of all the aperol spirtzers. spritzers. SPRITZES jesus.
- Balet is some intense shit, and Small – who was a ballerina for all the years – shows that well. The dancers are never NOT in constant comptiting for the no 1spot, and they’re constaltly battling weight and stress levels. While Kate and Marine are besties, they’re still competing against each other, so there’s always a level of strain to their frienship.
- I wish we’d known more about the structure of the courseloads, how the structure and calsses actually works, bc i’m not real familiar w it. THey can’t all be doing teh same dance classes, no? And what academics are tehy studying? Theres a lot of references to hoemwork but i never got a good handle on what the homework was for. Also, there were jumps in the timeline, like we just skip over winter break. Do they all stay for winter break? can they go home or take trips ro do they keep training but have no acadenic classes?
- Kind of tied intot hat, bc of a LOT of characters story arcs…is it weird that the schools got a nutritonst but not a psychiatrist? I feel like nowadays ballet schools would have one
- is it mandatory for all ballet schoosl to have a bad boy male dancer who rocks a leather coat? (and this isn’t knocking the author like ALL ballet books have this dude)
- kate is a hormonal stresed out hot mess. Terrible choices in boys? check. love hate alousy for best friend? check. acting out instead of bverbalizing feelings? check. nothing is more relatable. I think this is why i found kate’s storyline and resolution to be stronger than marine’s, which is a little one-lane motivated (although understandable).
What I gave it: 3 stars. Solid satisfactory ballet book that’s far more real than a lot of the others on the market.
What I would pair it with:
– Me, vodka on the rocks. This was INTENSE, and I pay tribute to the great Russian dancers.
– From the author herself: “I would pair Bright Burning Stars with Tequila Sunrise. While beautiful to hold in your hand, the red-orange drink has a hard edge. So does this book!”
About the author:
A.K. Small was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal. At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.