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84 Ribbons was my first accepted book request. I can honestly say it was an absolute pleasure reading this book!
84 Ribbons is about 17 year old, Washington State native Marta traveling to Billings, Montana to fulfill her dreams as a professional ballerina. While there she makes life long friendships, finds love, looses herself and begins the journey of finding out who she is. As a child she figured that it would take her 84 worn pointe shoe ribbons for her to be ready to dance her first solo piece professionally. The story takes you through her many trials and tribulations in an attempt to meet this goal.
There are 3 things that this book contained that I personally thoroughly enjoyed.
1. Ballet. I myself danced a number of years as a child. Though I stopped taking lessons I continued to dance in school musicals. I have always been fascinated and enjoyed the world of ballet. Paddy did an exquisite job of helping her readers enter the prestigious ballet world. The physical and mental struggles as a dancer as well as the interpersonal struggles that can occur when stakes are high and everyone is vying for their place center stage.
2. It’s a time period piece. I know the late 50s really weren’t that long ago as far as time period pieces go HOWEVER it did make an impact on the overall feeling of the book. Everything from the cars to the fashion were subtly mentioned. 84 Ribbons could have easily been written from a current point in time. I thoroughly appreciated the bit of extra time and effort into making it a time period piece.
3. It was relatable. Again, this book could have been written from a current time point of view. I think removing it from now made it more relatable. One of those moments where you realize that in many cases, people struggle and succeed today just as people decades ago. One of the big focuses of the book is weight issues. As ballerinas it is their job to be thin, toned and beautiful. No one wants to watch a fat dancer on stage. What’s more is Paddy Eger did not shy away from the realities of such struggles, but took them head on. I loved “watching” the relationship between Marta and Steve blossom. The friendship between Marta and her two best friends Bartley and Lynne was reminiscent of my own friendships. The relationship between Marta and her mother was one very near and dear to my heart, being that my mother and I are best friends. 🙂
Overall I would definitely recommend this book. It was a relatively easy read. I know a number of my students that would enjoy this book. I can’t wait to read the next 2 installments of the series as it follows Marta and Lynne on their continuing journies!