Kate and Marine have trained since childhood at the Paris Opera Ballet School where they formed an intense bond after respective family tragedies. Their friendship seems unshakeable until their final year when only one girl can be selected for a place in the Opera’s company. The physically demanding competition takes an emotional toll, and their support for each other starts to crumble. Marine’s eating disorder begins to control her life as she consumes less and dances more, and Kate discovers the depths of depression and the highs of first love as she falls for the school heartthrob—who also happens to be Marine’s dance partner.
As rankings tighten and each day is one step closer to the final selection, neither girl is sure just how far she’ll go to win. With nuance and empathy, the intense emotions of teenage years are amplified in Small’s debut as the girls struggle with grief, mental health issues, and relationships, all set against the glamorous backdrop of Paris.
Published 21 May 2019 | Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers | RRP: USD$17.95
My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)
I couldn’t help myself… A glance at the cover and I’m gone! Yep, I’m definitely reading this one – I just A.D.O.R.E. ballet. When I read the description, I doubted whether this is something I’d like but I still had to try. The bit I didn’t like was that it hinted at a love triangle and that it’ll take over the whole book but it did NOT and boy, I was so thankful!
Bright Burning Stars was so much more than just a love story or even boys. It delved much deeper into the psyches of these two girls who are passionate about dancing but are in a very stressful competitive situation. Their friendship of many years are challenged to the breaking point and their health are at risk to the point of destruction. This was a rather dark read.
Thankfully, this book is told in dual perspective, Kate Saunders and Marine Duval. I am very glad for Marine’s because I think I might have thrown the book if all I had to read was Kate’s point of view. Both Kate and Marine have had their share of childhood grief and each has their own issues in this story but Marine as a character is one you can easily sympathise with while Kate may just make you cry (after wanting to shake her).
As I read Bright Burning Stars & tried to guess the ending (who does that!?), I was reminded of Centre Stage (movie). The more I think of it, the more I see similarities between the 2 but enough differences to exist. Nevertheless, if you love this book, go watch Centre Stage!! And vice versa 😉
My thanks to Algonquin Young Readers for having me on this tour
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.