Read as part of CBR13Bingo: Free. I checked this book out from my library.
Megan Abbott just owns. In a time when everyone is desperate to write a female-centric thriller in the mold of Gone Girl, Abbott has done her own thing: taking female-centric activities like cheerleading, gymnastics, and femme-focused medicine, and excavating the hell out of all subtext to examine what the world does to women, especially young women. Here she turns her eye to ballet and produces something that continues to match her incredibly high standard.
This book has shades of a lot of creators and truths: James Cain, Dirty John. Yet weirdly enough, the book I kept thinking about when reading this is The Catcher in the Rye. If Holden Caufield’s dream is to keep kids from becoming adults, this is a feminized version of what happens when kids fall into the land of adulthood against their will and with disastrous consequences.
It’s one where I had no idea what direction it was going to go, mostly because Abbott never focuses on cheap moments. She builds her story through her inner monologue, the internal reveals are the hook that keeps you going so that when the action plays out on the page, it feels earned. Like the rickety house and studio that both daughters live and work it, it’s built unevenly on purpose, designed to keep the reader off guard until she shows what she’s doing.
And as she did with cheerleading and science, so also Abbott does with ballet in making something artistic or formulaic feel visceral and barbed. Large parts of the book read like body horror, which is how I imagine ballet dancers feel.
It’s another good book from one of my favorites and I’m glad I got my hands on it.