Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Behind Barres

Title: Behind Barres
Authors: Miriam Wenger-Landis, Amanda Brice, Leslie DuBois
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: September 14th 2013
Source: Netgalley


Two and a half stars, rounded up.

Behind Barres is a collection of three separate stories by three unique offers, which all center around a main theme: ballet. These books are: Girl in Motion by Miriam Wenger-Landis, Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice, and The Queen Bee of Bridgeton Leslie DuBois. All three books are completely different, and give a varied look into the young adult genre.


This omnibus ended up getting a relatively neutral review, since I loved one book, was indifferent to another, and was definitely not a fan of the third. It falls short for me as a collection, but a few of the stories would stand well on their own.

The first book, Girl in Motion by Miriam Wenger-Landis, tells the story of Anna, who has worked extremely hard to get where she is now as a ballerina. It's her goal to land a position with a professional dance troupe, and gaining herself the lead in the annual performance definitely helps her. But emotions run high and feelings grow more intense as graduation comes ever closer, and a boy enters her life to add more pressure to the mix. This story was okay to me. It was rather boring and predictable, but it was fine enough. I liked reading about the dace life, but I never really got a good sense of who the characters really were.

The middle book, Codename: Dancer by Amanda Brice follows the young teenage Dani as she gains a spot dancing with a celebrity on the reality game show Teen Celebrity Dance-Off. The hype of fame doesn't last her too long- that is, before the threats start coming in. Someone is out to get her, and if she's not careful, they will succeed in ending much more than her career. I found this story to have the most potential, but it was the weakest of the three in my opinion. I am very aware of the fact that this is a young adult story, but the vocabulary used was juvenile, even for a young teen audience. It sounded like when someone's mother tries to be "hip" or relatable but just ends up creating awkward snickers. That's how I felt about conversations in this book as a whole. I liked the plot, but the characters and the way they interacted drove me up a wall.

The final book, The Queen Bee of Bridgeton Leslie DuBois, narrates African-American teen Sonya's struggles at her private, predominantly white school. She worked herself to the bone to become a dancer, trading her cleaning and work skills for ballet lessons when her mother couldn't afford to get them. When she gains the attention of the star basketball player- a Caucasian- the catty, popular girls show just how ruthless they can be against those who encroach on their territory. This story blew me away. The characters were written with depth that made me instantly connect with Sonya. I feel this says a lot, seeing as she is of a different age, race, and is a ballerina. I am not athletic, white, and out of my teens, and I still was able to sympathize with her, and wanted her to overcome the obstacles thrown in her way. True, the romance was a bit over the top, but I feel that the overall writing and concept make up for it.

If you are a die hard fan of dance or ballet stories, or enjoy young teen romance, this collection might be worth a read. But for fans of a later young adult audience and grittier realism will probably be disappointed.

Thanks to Netgalley for my copy.


  1. I don't think I'd pick this book up for myself, but if one of my nieces were ever going to get into dance or ballet, I'd get this for them a present =]