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Girl Through Glass
By Sari Wilson
Reviewed by Nora Rawn
It's hard not to be disappointed by the parade of new 'it' debut fiction. More often than not, rather than a unique voice, they offer a rote structure, a dud of a hidden twist, and the window trappings of Culture without the substance underneath. So it goes with Girl Through Glass, a debut novel about a young ballerina rising through the ranks of the New York City Ballet during the tail-end of the Balanchine era. The chapters alternate between a present-day aimless dance professor haunted by her past and the slow unfurling and ultimate destruction of her promising career as a ballerina in late 70s and early 80s New York City. Yet while dance is the center of the novel, and the appeal of its physical discipline and artistic expression are central to the main character's path, as a dance novel the book falls short of conveying what is magical about the art. Meanwhile, the plotting is predictably sensational, dependent on a cliched Svengali figure and a conventional student/professor affair to add interest, with the result that the character development lacks depth, driven as it is by a programmatic scandal. The book ultimately serves as the perfect book club fodder--a seemingly elevated concept executed without imagination. It's a disappointing waste of a potentially marvelous setting that fails to exploit either the darkness at the heart of certain mentor/student relationships or the richness of NYCB history.
Out of 10: 7.0