Thursday, October 6, 2011

Book review: dancergirl by Carol Tanzman

(From Goodreads)

A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I’m no longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl. And suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.

My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stalker isn’t content to just watch anymore.

Ali. dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.(less)

Ali Ruffino loves to dance.  She's got lots of friends, lots of people who would like to be her - and she has a stalker.  But who is he?  And what does he want from her?

There are so many ways for me to read this book: as a dancer, as a teacher, as a YA writer. As a dancer, I loved Ali's passion for the art form.  Anyone who dances will understand and empathize with her need to express her creativity, her inner soul through movement, as well as the sheer joy she feels moving her body.  As a teacher, I feel like I got an insight into the many pressures a young dancer has in her life, things I may have forgotten about.  And as a YA writer, well, this was a page-turner from the opening chapter and that's the way I like my thrillers - unputdownable!

Our culture's current fascination with YouTube, with getting our 15 minutes of fame, with quick sound bites that we use to define people, are dealt with head-on in "dancergirl."  We see how Ali wants to have things both ways: popularity and fame as a dancer on the web, yet respectful privacy in her daily life.  As she soon finds, it's nearly impossible to keep secrets once you are in the public eye, for whatever reason.

Ultimately, beneath the trappings of the dance world, this story is a thriller, and it definitely thrills.  Tanzman keeps upping the stakes of the game for Ali, who indeed takes it as a game at first until things escalate beyond her control. I thought I knew who the bad guy was - and then Tanzman took it away - again and again and again!  LOL - I discovered it the same moment as our heroes, and it wasn't a "butler did it" solution either. 

You don't have to love dance to love "dancergirl" but if you do, I think you will find an extra layer of fun and self-discovery within its pages. Tanzman nails the details - the many hours of work and dedication required, the trials and troubles of choreography, the physical joy and pain dancers feel, and especially the competition and jealousy that go along with this very special world.

dancergirl will be available from Harlequin Teen Nov 15th but you can preorder at Amazon and other online stores now.

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