Tiny Pretty Things is a story that centers around three young ballet dancers who attend the elite American Ballet Conservatory (ABC) in New York City. Gigi, June and Bette are all vying for the lead roles in the school productions. Getting the lead roles is a big deal because those dancers are sometimes picked to join the professional company when they graduate. Gigi is the new girl who came from California. She is African American. The instructors like her dancing and she is being favored. June’s mother is Korean and was a dancer at ABC when she was young. She got pregnant with June and had to leave school. June doesn’t know who her father is. Bette was the lead dancer who got bumped by Gigi. A few more wrinkles, Bette’s boy friend for most of her life was the lead male dancer Alex, but he broke up with Bette and is going out with Gigi. Bette wants him back and she wants the lead roles. June is Gigi’s understudy and doesn’t get to dance unless Gigi can’t. And Gigi, of course, want to enjoy being the best dancer and having a great boy friend. Well, bad things start happening to Gigi and we don’t know who is doing it.
The novel explores themes such as competition, jealousy, ambition, friendship, identity, drug use, easting disorders, and mental health. It sheds light on the cutthroat world of ballet and the extremes dancers will go to achieve success. The characters are complex and flawed on the inside, yet strive to portray themselves as graceful, strong, and flawless in their performances. The book is an interesting, though perhaps over dramatized look at the dance world.
I listened to the audio version of the book which had several readers, one for each girl. This added an extra dimension to the story that was nice. I thought the book ending was a bit disappointing, but there is another follow on book, so perhaps things pick up there. There is a Netflix mini-series that used the book as a basis, but there are a number of differences in the plot. Overall, Tiny Pretty Things was an enjoyable young adult book.