The Other Side of Perfect – Mariko Turk

This is the hard story of Alina, a young ballerina who broke her leg and saw her dreams of becoming a professional ballerina melt away. She has no idea how to navigate her new life, post-ballet, at a school where she doesn’t quite feel like she belongs. Her mood is down, she’s short with people, but luckily she has one good friend who’s been through something as well and understands Alina’s walls. But Alina’s walls are slowly coming down as she joins her high school musical, reconnects with her love of dancing, and develops new relationships with people in her life.

It is quite a beautifully-told tale. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone to have their passion taken away from them in a slip second. I couldn’t picture what my life would look like without my ability to read. I guess I could turn to audio books, which can be enjoyable, but I certainly would miss the amazing feeling of starting a new story, getting to the end of a page and being excited about turning it, and even enjoying the visual qualities of a book. I’m also volunteering as a reader right now, so I read books to more isolated people in my region, and I wouldn’t be able to do that if I lost my sight or anything that enables reading.

All that to say that Alina’s ups and downs were very understandable. Despite her initial refusal to dance again if she can’t be who she used to, she gives herself a chance to be happy again and see the beauty in non-pointe dancing. I watched a YouTube video yesterday in which a overweight woman artist was worried about dating another artist because she assumed that artists loved beauty and she did not consider herself to be ‘‘classically beautiful.’’ Then I read the comments and someone said that being an artist is not about liking beautiful things, but about being able to recognize beauty in things. That really touched me and I am mentioning it because Alina is trying to see the beauty in things that she wouldn’t normally have found ‘‘classically beautiful’’ or as aligning with her vision of who she’s meant to be. I found that to be quite admirable. Though this story has its hard moments, it is ultimately uplifting and very human.

Thank you Hachette Book Group Canada for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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