Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina

 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
1889 1
Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
January 19, 2016
ISBN
978-0385755146
Buy This Book
      
The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.

Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a “devil child” for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.

At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is now the youngest principal dancer with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has appeared in the ballet documentary First Position, as well as on Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America, and Nightline.

In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet’s most exciting rising stars.

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Extraordinary!
(Updated: February 21, 2016)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
5.0
TAKING FLIGHT is both potent and potentially worldview-expanding. Whether you’re interested in ballet or not, this YA memoir is a stirring must-read.

Let me start out by saying that this reader, personally, has no particular interest in dancing of any kind. But when I came across a news article several years ago detailing some of Michaela DePrince’s life, I was immediately drawn in. Her background and force of personality were uniquely captivating, and her physical ability was ethereal. I had to know more about her. This memoir provided exactly the resource I was hoping for to that end.

Micheala DePrince’s life story begins in a war-torn Sierra Leone—a brilliant, headstrong child born to doting parents who are in the severe cultural minority in regard to their value for the female gender. Tragically losing both of her parents proves to be only the beginning of her hardships. Micheala’s spotted skin pigmentation marks her as a “devil child” and she suffers tremendous abuses at the hands of cruel and superstitious caretakers—beginning with her own uncle and continuing on as she becomes the least-favorite child at the orphanage she is sold to. She somehow survives horrific war violence, trauma, neglect, starvation, disease, abuse, and the brutal misogyny of Sharia Law—before being adopted by a big-hearted American couple at the age of 4. And a chance encounter with a magazine cover (featuring a prima ballerina) becomes an unlikely focalpoint that hones her new life.

Michela DePrince’s mere survival defies all probability. The fact that she has also excelled in drive and discipline to the point where she is currently a renowned classical ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet is beyond inspiring—bordering on the miraculous.

DePrince’s writing is strong, straightforward, and devoid of frills—effective and sometimes blunt in conveyance. She lays out her story like dance steps. Precise and intentional, acknowledging pain without faltering or dwelling on it any longer than necessary. The first 70 pages are dedicated to sharing her pre-adoption childhood, and while the content is often difficult to read, it makes her current triumph all the more sweet. Her challenges don’t end simply because she’s given 1st-world opportunities. Instead they change form—appearing in her initial struggles with adapting to her adoptive country, in the heartbreak of losing a beloved sibling, in the effects of residual PTSD, in her own self-consciousness over her skin condition, and eventually in confronting the many faces and forms of racism in everyday life as well as the realm of professional ballet.

I’ve noted some reviewers take issue with the credibility of DePrince’s memories from the age of 3-4 while she was still in Sierra Leone. But considering she could read and write by age 3 and spoke five languages (thanks to both her biological parents’ attentiveness and the nature of their merchant livelihood), the degree of trauma she endured, and her exceedingly advanced talent and aptitude in spite of all odds, this reader can’t see any reason to find fault with her recollections. If anyone is a clear exception to the norm, it is this astounding young woman.

Highly Recommended For: Anyone and everyone.
Don’t wait to get a hold of this book. Come and dance a mile in this girl’s pointe shoes.

DePrince’s story doesn’t merely fly, it soars.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student....
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in...
Butterfly Yellow
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and Erika...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The definitive collection of art, poetry, and prose, celebrating fat...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventh-grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he...
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Still reeling from her recent battle (and grounded until she...
Cog
Cog
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Cog looks like a normal twelve-year-old boy. But his name...
Homerooms and Hall Passes
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the mystical realm of Bríandalör, every day the brave...
Susan B. Anthony: The Making of America #4
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the fourth installment in the Making of America series,...
Hazel's Theory of Evolution
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Hazel knows a lot about the world. That’s because when...
Sublime Karma
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
When Brie’s stepfather moves the family for what he...
Goddess Ascending
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Promised to the Light. Hunted by the Dark. Two...
Crown of Coral and Pearl
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and...
#Murderfunding (#MurderTrending, #2)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
WELCOME TO WHO WANTS TO BE A PAINIAC?, the...
Voyages in the Underworld of Orpheus Black
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Harry Black is lost between the world of war...
Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in...

Latest Member Reviews

 
5.0
"Tristan Strong isn't doing too well. He lost his best friend, Eddie, in a bus accident, lost a boxing match,..."
Cog
Cog
 
4.0
"Cog looks like an ordinary twelve year old boy, but he is an advanced android that the scientists at uniMind..."
Hazel's Theory of Evolution
 
4.0
"Hazel lives on a farm with her two mothers and her older brother Rowan. They have a heard of goats..."
Homerooms and Hall Passes
 
5.0
"Albiorix is a young Medieval wizard from the mystical realm of Bríandalör who is Hall Master for the role playing..."
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away
 
3.0
"THE OWLS HAVE COME TO TAKE US AWAY is a middle grade sci-fi/horror (though not too scary) that follows a..."
A Very Pikmi Halloween (Pikmi Pops)
 
4.0
"Celebrate Halloween with the Pikmi Pops in this cute story about friendship. Wubbs the Bat and Vampy the Bat are..."
Apocalypse Taco
 
4.0
"APOCALYPSE TACO is a horror graphic novel that follows two middle school aged boys, Axl and Ivan. Axl and Ivan..."
Kitty and the Moonlight Rescue
 
4.0
"Kitty wants to be a superhero like her mom, but she's afraid to go out in the dark. Her mom..."
Little Penguin's New Friend
 
4.0
"'Little Penguin's New Friend' by Tadgh Bentley is a cute story about the making of a friendship despite misconceptions about..."
Naked Mole Rat Saves the World
 
4.0
"NAKED MOLE RAT SAVES THE WORLD tells the story of kit, whose name is lowercase because she was too small..."
The 12th Candle
 
4.0
"Sage lives out west in the town of Goldview, and her family is cursed. Years ago, her mother and her..."
Amelia Fang and the Barbaric Ball (Amelia Fang, #1)
 
4.0
"AMELIA FANG AND THE BARBARIC BALL is the first book in the Amelia Fang series, a fantasy/magical middle grade series..."
Amelia Fang and the Unicorns of Glitteropolis (Amelia Fang, #2)
 
4.5
"AMELIA FANG AND THE UNICORNS OF GLITTEROPOLIS is ultimately about harmful stereotypes, problems with misinformation, and the subversion of overly..."
Small World
 
5.0
"SMALL WORLD is a gorgeous celebration of growing up and following your dreams. When Nanda was born, her world was..."
On the First Day of Summer Vacation
 
3.5
"ON THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER VACATION uses the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas to present the fun..."
Ada Twist and the Perilous Pants (The Questioneers, #2)
 
5.0
"Budding scientists, rejoice! The Questioneers is the perfect series to show you the how and to have some extra scientific..."
Bad Bella
 
4.0
"Bella lives with the McBrides, who have several small children and often forget Bella's needs. She gets in trouble for..."
Dear Justice League
 
5.0
"In this short, middle grade graphic novel, DC superheroes from the Justice League answer e mails from young fans. Superman..."
Shake It Off! (Wish #8)
 
4.0
"Bria has made some poor choices concerning friends and social media back home in Chicago, so her parents have decided..."
Babies Can Sleep Anywhere
 
4.0
"BABIES CAN SLEEP ANYWHERE is a cute rhyming book about sleep. The book goes through where animals sleep (e.g. puppy..."