African and USA Writers Michaela & Elaine DePrince Hope in a Ballet Shoe
Faber & Faber 2014 $23.99pb 255pp ISBN 978 05713 1446 1
Themes: Adoption/ Ballet/Orphans and Orphanages/ Racism/ Sierra Leone Civil War 1991-2002
Before she has even turned four Michaela has experienced events too horrible to think about for such a little girl – she sees her father killed by rebels, watches the absolutely brutal murder of her teacher and unborn baby and when her mother dies of starvation, she is sent to the orphanage from hell where it is surprising she survived at all. Salvation miraculously occurs in the form of an American couple who, already having adopted and fostered children from war torn countries, take Michaela and another four year old back to the United States to a time of total privilege and opportunity and the chance of a life in ballet. She might not have been born with a silver spoon but it was certainly waiting for her with her adoption into the DePrince family. This is much more than an account of the young life of a successful ballerina. It is the story of a black teenager who succeeds in a predominately white industry – the whole world of ballet where up until now not many black dancers have had leading roles in the classic ballets. It is addictive and easy reading, told very simply without any self pity and I am sure it will be read with much pleasure (and eye-opening) by a large group of teenagers from around 13 up (and of course, many adults). Just Google Michaela DePrince for much material about her and her family.
Year 9 up/ Age 13 up
Note: Contains some distressing descriptions of atrocities in the Sierra Leone Civil War 1991–2002