books, reviews

Book Review – Hope in a Ballet Shoe


Michaela DePrince is currently a dancer with the Dutch National Ballet, before that she was a ballet student in America, and before that she was an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone.

As a little girl I wanted to be a ballerina, and although that never worked out, I still do the positions on Underground platforms and try to see as much ballet as I can afford.

Michaela wanted to be a ballerina too, but her journey would be long, hard and at times painful.

If you’ve seen the documentary First Position, you’ll recognise the teenage Michaela, one of the few black ballerinas around. She’s got a beautiful smile and dances wonderfully.

Her book takes you from the tragedy of her early years, orphaned by age 4, sold to an orphanage by her uncle, she witnessed the murder of her pregnant teacher and had to flee along with the other children to neighbouring Guinea. Throughout it all she clung to the dream of looking like the ballerina on the front of a magazine she found in the street.

She and her best friend were adopted by a white couple from America, became sisters and began to dance.

Her story is inspiring, heartbreaking and ultimately full of hope and joy.
I stayed up late reading it, not wanting to put it down, desperate to know whether she achieved her dream.

Written with her adoptive mother’s help, Michaela’s story is brilliant for reminding you that thinks can be achieved and if you work hard dreams happen.