Book Review | Bright Burning Stars

Title: Bright Burning Stars by A. K. Small

Pages: 304

Genres: YA, realistic fiction, contemporary,

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (May 21st, 2019)


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.

As someone who grew up dancing ballet, I am always instantly drawn to any book/show/movie that involves dance. I love the artistry, drama, and experiences. Bright Burning Stars does an excellent job of conveying all three of those aspects.

The relationship dynamics found in this book are so well done. Marine and Kate’s friendship was very honest. As we grow, relationships change; add competition into the mix and friendships can be very difficult to maintain. I loved the alternating POVs as well. To be able to really understand what both Marine and Kate were thinking adds a dimension that just would not be possible if this story was only told in one of their perspectives.

As I said earlier, I love ballet. So, I really appreciated that the author of this book was actually a dancer, herself. I loved reading the dancing descriptions. Had someone not danced, they might have found it difficult to envision without knowing the terminology. But, I personally, really enjoyed it.

Bright Burning Stars also explores the complexities of striving to become a professional dancer. Because of this, it also includes some very heavy topics including struggling with body image, eating disorders, drug use, and abortion. While not every professional dancer experiences this, they almost certainly know someone who has experienced or struggled with at least one of these issues.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Bright Burning Stars is emotional, engaging, and thoughtful. While this book was filled with difficulties, I loved how, ultimately, it ended with hope. I would recommend this book to anyone who is fascinated by the dance world or looking for a fast-paced and dramatic read.


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