June, Bette, and Gigi have given their all to dance at Manhattan’s most elite ballet school. Now they are competing one final time for a spot at the prestigious American Ballet Company. With the stakes higher than ever, these girls have everything to lose…and no one is playing nice.
June is starting to finally see herself as a prima ballerina. However, getting what she wants might cost her everything—including the only boy she’s ever loved. Legacy dancer Bette is determined to clear her name after she was suspended and accused of hurting her rival, Gigi. Even if she returns, though, will she ever regain the spotlight she craves? And Gigi is not going to let Bette—or the other dancers who bullied her—go unpunished. But as revenge consumes her, Gigi may be the one who pays the price.
After years of grueling auditions, torn ribbons, and broken hearts, it all comes down to this last dance. Who will make the cut? And who will lose her dream forever?
Tiny Pretty Things was a pit of toxicity and backstabbing, a depressing look into the world of professional ballet, Shiny Broken Pieces focuses on the aftermath of the events of TPT. Their world is shaken by the acts of violence, the threat of bodily harm that moved past beyond regular bullying. The girls who were victims are now becoming aggressors, and the bullies are learning from their mistakes and trying to move on.
Focusing on the three protagonists once again, the story takes a brighter turn in this installment. Bette, suspended but not quitting, is out to prove that she wasn’t the one who pushed Gigi; she is also aiming for her future as a principal ballerina at the ABC. June, meanwhile, though now happy with the boyfriend Jayhe, is not out of the woods yet with her lingering bulimic problems, and she starts to reassess what her love for ballet really means to her. She still has her tormenter, Sei-Jin around to give her a hard time, though she lets less of it get to herself now. Gigi, on the other hand, has turned bitter from the events and slightly paranoid and mean. She initially starts to bully the girls who tormented her, but later rises above it. Cassie is however, around, as the proverbial devil on her shoulder, whispering nasty plans. I get that Cassie was bullied, but something about her made me feel she wasn’t always all innocent like Gigi; case in point, her mistreatment of June.
While the bullying and sabotaging are still an inherent part of the plotline, the fact that these girls are now in their senior year and looking forward to their future prospects, makes for a simultaneous relief and stressor for them. The guys don’t have all the pressures they have, and all the girls, too, don’t have equal opportunities. There is always a case of casual racism surrounding the air, and also how their bodies are. June, despite being petite and nearly on the side of anorexia, is chastised by her ballet instructor for having an inch of fat. Bette, though being on the outside and seeing what regular bodies look like, falls into the same pattern of desiring that willowy figurine silhouette desired of dancers. Gigi is subtly put down for her skin color. It makes for a heartbreaking story when you realize how body image affects these young impressionable young girls and though this was covered extensively in the previous book, I like that it was not forgotten in the sequel. Overall, the book is a well-written story about passion and drive, and obsession and desperation.
Received a free galley from HarperTeen, via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.