'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Review: Hope in a Ballet Shoe

Michaela DePrince was born Mabinty Bangura in the war-torn country of Sierra Leone. By the age of four, her mother had died of famine and her father had been killed by rebels.

Fearful, hungry and riddled with disease, Mabinty was surviving as best she could in an orphanage when one day the wind blew a magazine through the orphanage gates. On its cover was the picture of a young ballet dancer and, in that moment, a spark flared in Mabinty's heart.

Fast forward 15 years and Mabinty, now Michaela, is an international ballet star dancing for the Dutch National Ballet. Hers is a true story that proves fact can indeed be stranger than fiction.

As one of several children adopted by an American couple, Michaela has managed to well and truly overcome the horrors of her early childhood. In the process, she has featured in a documentary, First Position, that looks at the demanding life of a professional ballerina; she has become a beacon of hope for black ballet dancers around the world (who feature all too rarely in professional dance troupes); and she has spoken at the United Nations on the issues faced by children affected by war.

More importantly, she has also found her place in a loving, supportive family.

Simply, yet compellingly written, this is an inspiring story of hope, courage and believing in one's dreams. The book also includes pictures of Michaela from her time in the orphanage right up to her life today as a prima ballerina. And looking at her on stage, I am so happy she got the chance to let her talent shine.

Title: Hope in a Ballet Shoe
Authors: Michaela and Elaine DePrince
Publisher: Faber & Faber, $19.99 RRP
Publication Date: November 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780571314461
For ages: 14+
Type: Young Adult Non-Fiction