Monday, September 12, 2016

September Spotlight on #OwnVoices: Shiny Broken Pieces

by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton. HarperTeen, 2016. 374 pages. ISBN 978-0062342423. Click here to purchase.

Gigi, June, and Bette are back in this sequel to Tiny Pretty Things--but things are different now. Cassie has healed, and returns to the cutthroat ballet academy, where she and Gigi (freshly returned from her own injury) quickly become besties--and vicious, manipulative plotters, determined to hurt the people who hurt them last year.  June struggles with anorexia, bulimia and the sinking realization that she will never be number one at the American Ballet Company.

Bette, meanwhile, uses her time at home (she's been expelled from the academy) to practice non-stop and and prove her innocence.  Determined re-capture her spot as Prima Ballerina, she fights her way back into the spotlight, only to find that she must share it with Gigi in the school's end-of-year performance of Swan Lake.

Like its predecessor, Shiny Broken Pieces is simply delicious.  Horrible "accidents", sabotage, self-destruction, and a teacher/student affair populate the pages.  But Charaipotra and Clayton also achieve a "real" feel in some of its quieter moments, as June takes one painful step at a time to cure and heal her eating disorders, Bette comes to grips with the pain she's caused, and the lines between friend and enemy blur as Cassie manipulates Gigi until she hardly recognizes herself.  Chapters alternate between the three main characters, each voice distinct and immediately recognizable.  Readers will find their sympathies swinging rapidly from character to character, as each girl's passion and sense of self-righteousness builds.  Compelling characters, heart-pounding action, and complicated relationships make for a breakneck read.

Reviewed by Allie Jane Bruce

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