Life in Motion: A Book Review


Life in MotionTitle: Life in Motion

Author: Misty Copeland

Published: March 4th, 2014 by Touchstone

Pages: 288

Genre: Adult / Memoir

Series: N/A

Summary: “Picture a ballerina in a tutu and toe shoes. What does she look like?” As the only African-American soloist dancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland has made history. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, anxious thirteen-year-old to become a ground-breaking ballerina.

When she discovered ballet, Misty was living in a shabby motel room, struggling with her five siblings for a place to sleep on the floor. A true prodigy, she was dancing en pointe within three months of taking her first dance class and performing professionally in just over a year: a feat unheard of for any classical dancer. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life (culminating in a highly publicized custody battle), she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.

With an insider’s unique point of view, Misty opens a window into the life of a professional ballerina who lives life center stage: from behind the scenes at her first auditions to her triumphant roles in some of the most iconic ballets. But in this beautifully written memoir, she also delves deeper to reveal the desire and drive that made her dreams reality. {Goodreads}

My Thoughts: Ballet fascinates me. I have very little dancing experience, but whenever I watch a performance, I am mesmerized by every aspect. However, like any sport or skill, I realize what looks effortless on stage takes years and years of practice to master. Interested in the “behind-the-scenes” parts of ballet, I was excited to come across Misty Copeland’s memoir, Life in Motion, at my local library. I’ve seen Copeland as a judge on SYTYCD before, but beyond that, I knew little about her. While her writing was a bit jumbled at times, my enjoyment of the story wasn’t affected. My third nonfiction choice of the year was a success! :)

Misty didn’t grow up dancing ballet, which is quite different from many professional ballet dancers. She started as a young teen, and in just three months, she was already dancing en pointe {craziness}. I think this is where the book’s strength lies: the fact that Misty’s story is so unusual. While I wouldn’t shy away from a typical – that term used very loosely – ballerina’s memoir, I like that not only do readers get a glimpse in the ballet world, they also see it in a whole new light. Because the whole purpose of non-fiction is to learn something new, is it not?! The underlying theme of racism only adds more layers to the memoir; ballet is clearly a white-dominated world, so simply reading about what Misty had to do to make herself known and respected will touch the reader.

Much of the memoir goes back and forth between Misty’s home life and her ballet career. While these two are often related {e.g. Misty at one point lives with her first ballet teacher to further her training}, I felt that the flow of the story was sometimes choppy. I would have loved to seen a stronger connection between the events in her life, instead of feeling like the chapters were describing one accomplishment after another. Nevertheless, her unconventional upbringing and my own personal interest in ballet made up for the so-so style of writing.

In a ballet-centered book, it would be natural to expect an abundance of dance terms. Thankfully, the author breaks down each technical idea, so confusion shouldn’t arise while reading. I have full confidence that if I were to give this to someone with limited knowledge on ballet, they would still enjoy it; Misty’s ability to engross any reader with her story should tell all you need to know about the quality of the memoir.

Overall, Life in Motion was a delight to read! The writing was somewhat choppy, but my attention was held from beginning to end. Fans of memoirs or dance stories should definitely check this one out. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see what else is in store for Misty’s career!

Pros: Misty does a terrific job taking us through her entire life – and in under 300 pages no less! She also tackles the adversity she’s faced in a beautiful way.

Cons: The flow of the story felt jumbled and choppy at times, but the book’s content is enough to hold the reader’s interest.

Heads Up: If I am remembering correctly, language wasn’t a concern, although more mature themes are discussed.

Overall: I give it 4 stars {****}, and I recommend it for ages 12 and up.

Have a lovely day!


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