"A young dancer joins a ballet corps, and finds herself under pressure"
Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted November 21, 2014
Young Adult | Young Adult Romance
Marta is seventeen and wants to join a ballet company.
opening to a Young Adult book gripped me right away. The
early start to a life of dedication means that this will
no ordinary girl. Working her way through a nerve-wracking
audition in her home town of Seattle, Marta Selbryth keeps
her head and dances without standing out to show that she
can fit into a line.
84 RIBBONS continues as Marta can do nothing but wait to
hear her results. She's working hard to graduate from high
school and applying for store clerk positions, because
competition in ballet is fierce. The year is 1957. Her
mother and she are thrilled when the company accepts the
young dancer, and she makes provisions to live away from
home in Billings, Montana. Saving the ribbons from every
pair of pointe shoes she's worn, Marta reckons she'll need
eighty-four ribbons before she can perform solos.
Life doesn't flow smoothly with missing luggage, wrong
information, autocratic intructors, a rented room to find
and not much money, but people are kind and Marta
appreciates the help she's given. Nobody can help her with
dancing however - that's all up to her. Her diet is light
and simple, barely enough for a growing teen, and doesn't
provide enough energy for a morning filled with effort.
Costumes are made to measurements taken once a year,
however, and she's ordered not to gain weight. Her toes
blister from the pointe shoes. All kinds of pressures are
coming into play, and the young lady has to grow up fast.
I was filled with admiration for Marta as I read; her
resourcefulness and dedication are rare in any teen and
has to deny herself anything that would be a usual part of
a girl's life. Lynne and Bartley, two more beginners,
share experiences and decide on a three-way friendship,
which makes Marta's life so much easier. There are many
good lessons which can apply to any walk of life,
serious body image issues we meet today. Author Paddy
really made me feel that I was living the experience. The
author was herself a dancer for years, though not
professionally, and she understands the pressures that
young women encounter in such a demanding art.
is bright, lively and sad by turns, and strong young
of all interests will find this book compulsive reading.
The Debut novel by award-winning author Paddy Eger
84Ribbons-FrontCover-WebMed A young dancer's realizes her
life long dream, if only for a while.
Seventeen year old Marta Selbryth realizes her dream of
becoming a professional dancer when the Intermountain
Company in Billings, Montana invites her to join their
season. As Marta's new life unfolds, she must learn to
not only the successes of dancing in the corps de ballet,
but the challenges and setbacks that might crush the dream
she's had for so long.
After a couple of mishaps, Marta settles into life in a
boarding house located near the ballet company. Her
landlady, Mrs. B., is friendly, reduces her rent when
Marta's offers to bake for the boarder and later allows
to use the basement as a practice studio. The two male
boarders are supportive; Carol, a fellow boarder, ignores
Marta spends her free time practicing when she's not
spending time with her new friends Lynne and Bartley,her
fellow corps dancers. Their time together becomes an
important lifeline through their first year.
Madame Cosper, the artistic director, is a demanding
Marta begins their association poorly when she makes a
disastrous choice. Expecting expulsion, Marta receives a
second chance in the form of dancing the unpopular
roles during the fall and winter performances.Marta
determines to dance every role with confidence in hopes of
proving to Madame that she's up for every challenge.
Steve, a young college man and a reporter, spots Marta
he's assigned to write an article about ballet for the
paper. He's attracted to her and begins his pursuit.Over
months ahead, he becomes her tour guide of the area and
attempts to convince Marta to be his girl. But her
focus is ballet and some of her adventures with him lead
problems with Madame Cosper.
Shortly after Christmas, everything changes for Marta,
Bartley and Steve. Significant events permanently
their lives. Each must deal with exhilaration and
as well as frustration and changes that test their ability
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