Title: The Still Point
Author: Tammy Greenwood
My Rating: ★★★★
Age Range: Adult
Publication: Kensington (Expected February 20, 2024)
CW: parent death, arson, mentions of body image issues/eating disorders
Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for providing me with an advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Dance Moms meets Big Little Lies meets Little Fires Everywhere in this ballet-centric suspense-drama.
This book is pitched as being a cross between the iconic reality TV series, Dance Moms, and the Celeste Ng novel-turned-TV-series, Little Fires Everywhere. However, I will go further to add that there is definitely a Big Little Lies vibe here. So if that’s your cup of tea, keep reading to find out what I thought about this book!
The Still Point follows three moms—Ever, Lindsay, and Josie—as they grapple with their daughters’ final year at the California ballet school they’ve come to call home. However, the ante is upped when a controversial figure in the ballet world comes to direct their production of The Nutcracker. Not only that, but he’ll be filming a documentary and selecting one student to receive a full scholarship to the Ballet de Paris Academie.
If there’s one thing I have always loved in fiction, it’s stories about ballet.
I’m not even sure why. I did dance for a decade as a kid/teen, but never ballet. But the mystery, the allure of ballet was thrilling to me. I consumed episodes of Dance Academy like it was my lifeline. So when I saw this book pop up on my feed, I knew I had to read it. We always hear about ballet being a cutthroat world, but Tammy Greenwood handles it with such grace and integrity. In her note, she mentions that The Still Point is a “love letter to ballet” and that comes across in each stroke of her pen.
The thing about this book is that it isn’t that these characters are inherently vindictive or ruthless… Okay, maybe some of them are. On the whole, however, it is a group of women and girls who are passionate and strong and enduring. They have a goal before them—whether it’s for themselves or for their daughters—and they are relentless in their pursuit of achieving it. The hitch, however, is Etienne Bernay who arrives on the scene almost solely to stir up trouble. While it makes for a very intriguing novel, I also wanted to throat punch Etienne like ninety percent of the time because he was just causing drama for his own personal amusement and not considering the wellbeing of his pupils.
Competition becomes rivalry and friend becomes foe.
One of the most intriguing aspects of this novel is the way in which the girls—primarily Bea, Olive, and Savvy—are pitted against one another and how the toxicity of their environment seeps into their lives. Etienne dangles the scholarship in front of the girls’ faces, using it to manipulate situations into very dark and often dangerous situations.
From the get-go, we learn that something has happened between Bea and Olive. Once best friends, they barely acknowledge each other and now Olive has turned her attention to the crown jewel of the studio, Savvy. Tammy Greenwood artfully leaves a breadcrumb trail of evidence between the ensemble of characters that will lead you to the events that lead Bea and Olive’s relationship to unravel.
It’s difficult to dive into the beauty of this novel without giving away the best parts of the plot, the ones you have to uncover on your own discovery. I will say, there’s nothing I want more than to view the final footage of the documentary that was filmed in this studio. Now that would make for a good show.
The Still Point will capture the attention of both those who love ballet and those who couldn’t tell a plié from an arabesque.
Synopsis: Ever, Lindsay, and Josie have ushered their daughters—Bea, Olive, and Savvy—through years of dance classes in their coastal California town. They’ve tended bloodied feet, stitched ribbons to countless pairs of pointe shoes, and in the process, forged friendships that seem to transcend rivalry.
But now Etienne Bernay, enfant terrible of French ballet, has come to their conservatory. Not only will he direct this year’s production of The Nutcracker , but he’s brought along a film crew to document his search for one special student who will receive a full scholarship to the Ballet de Paris Academie. For the girls, this is the chance to fulfill lifelong dreams. For Ever, recently widowed and struggling financially, it may be the only way to keep Bea dancing. And Bea is a truly gifted dancer—poetic and ethereal, breathtaking to watch.
Lindsay, meanwhile, frets that Olive is growing tired of the punishing reality of training, while Josie has no such qualms about Savvy, who is a powerhouse of ambition.
From auditions to casting to rehearsals, the cameras capture the selection process, with its backstabbing and jealousy, disappointment and triumph. But it’s behind the scenes that Bernay’s arrival will yield the most shocking revelations, exposing the secrets and lies at the heart of all three families—and the sacrifices women make for their children, for friendship, and for art.
Are you a fan of media centered around dance? If you’ve seen Dance Academy, drop a comment below and let’s chat about it!
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