Monday, 28 December 2015

Hope in a Ballet Shoe by Michaela & Elaine DePrince was inspiring and uplifting and made me cry on numerous occasions

Hope in a Ballet Shoe: Orphaned by war, saved by ballet: an extraordinary true storyTitle: Hope in a Ballet Shoe
Series: N/A
Author: Michaela and Elaine DePrince
Genre: Non-Fiction, Autobiography
Publication: December 30th 2014, Faber & Faber
Pages: 272 Pages, Paperback
Source: My Library. Thanks, Library. I heart you. 
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
Orphaned by war, saved by ballet.
Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teacher.
But there is hope: the Harmattan wind blows a magazine through the orphanage gates. Michaela picks it up and sees a beautiful image of a young woman dancing. One day, she thinks, I want to be this happy.
And then Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela can take the dance lessons she's dreamed of since finding her picture.
Life in the States isn't without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it's haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words "America's not ready for a black girl ballerina".
And yet...
Today, Michaela is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of 19.
A heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future. 

Well, that was beautiful and completely tore to my heart to shreds. I cried around six times. I counted.

I've been wanting to read this book for quite awhile now, especially since starting ballet a couple of weeks ago, so when I saw it at the library I may have quite possibly let out a series of demented shrieks and frightened the librarian away but I WAS JUST SO EXCITED. I promptly started reading it...and I was already crying by page 13. Is that a record for earliest tears shed in a book? I THINK YES. This book was so inspiring but so utterly heart-wrenching too. The cruel, inhumane things that Michaela had to see and experience from such a young age absolutely demolished me and I'm so thankful she allowed herself to share the demons of her past with us, because her story just proves with the right determination and the picture of a better future, the physical form of hope in the shape of a ballerina that you can do whatever you put your mind to It just shows how if you hold onto hope, you can accomplish anything from your wildest dreams.

Hope in a Ballet Shoe is a true story about Michaela DePrince, a little girl who lost her parents before the age of five, a little girl who saw her favorite teacher brutally, sickeningly murdered by a group of war rebels, a girl who was abused at an orphanage, who was starved and plagued with a myriad of diseases. A little girl who is now an international ballet sensation. One day when Michaela DePrince - then Mabinty Barunga - was outside and was caught in a severe wind storm, a page from a magazine blew into a her face. A magazine that held the picture of a ballerina. When Michaela looked at the picture she told herself that she would one day be that happy, she would be like that girl. Her chance then eventually came when an American family decided to adopt her and her best friend from the orphanage. Her adoptive mother, Elaine DePrince, asked Michaela what she wanted. Unable to reply due to not being able to speak much English, Michaela went on her tippy-toes and twirled around the room, then showing her mother the picture of the ballerina. She was enrolled in ballet lessons a little while later. The book shows the extraordinary journey she took from an orphan who appeared to have no future, to one of the most wonderful ballerinas now, the sacrifices she made, the prejudice and racism she endured, the hours of dancing she partook in. Michaela is truly amazing.

I absolutely loved this book. From the minute I started reading I couldn't put it down. This book gave me chills because of the simplistic, but breath-taking and honest way in which it's written. I felt every single emotion that Michaela felt when I was reading this book. I felt the terror, the disgust, the debilitating sadness and the seemingly hopeless situation that threatened to consume her, when she was adopted I felt a surge of joy, when she began dance lessons I started crying because she was finally being allowed the opportunity to do something that had sustained her dwindling hope and do something that made her so completely happy.

I really admired Michaela's determination. It honestly sickened me at the racial prejudice and bigotry that Michaela and her family were faced with and I so immensely admire Michaela's constant courage and perseverance, her love for ballet and her wish to allow black ballerinas to be a social norm instead of a rare occurrence in the ballet world. Michaela's story has really inspired me: to always have hope, always keep trying and never give up, despite the circumstances that taunt you and tempt you into believing that you can't accomplish that dream that you so badly desire.

I highly, highly recommend Hope in a Ballet Shoe. There are moments that will completely break your heart, a knife impaled in your chest as you have to acknowledge the trauma and the nightmarish events that people have had to experienced through their life. There are moments that will cause your heart to contract with anxiety as you rush through the book with baited breath, needing to know how things turn out for this wonderful, inspirational dancer, moments where your heart explodes into a frenzy of joy and moments where you feel yourself being uplifted, feeling as if you can accomplish anything, feeling as if - now that you've read Michaela's story - anything is possible, anything at all. I can't remember the last time a book made me feel so many varying amounts of emotions that came in such strong surges. This is a book that everybody should have the pleasure of reading. This is a book that makes you feel like you can conquer anything.

I give it: 5/5 CUPCAKES!

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