Book Review: Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Book: Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

Published March 2014 by Touchstone|288 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: Adult Non-Fiction/Memoir

Determination meets dance in this memoir by the history-making ballerina.

In this instant New York Times bestseller, Misty Copeland makes history, telling the story of her journey to become the first African-American principal ballerina at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. But when she first placed her hands on the barre at an after-school community center, no one expected the undersized, underprivileged, and anxious thirteen-year-old to become one of America’s most groundbreaking dancers . A true prodigy, she was attempting in months roles that take most dancers years to master. But when Misty became caught between the control and comfort she found in the world of ballet and the harsh realities of her own life, she had to choose to embrace both her identity and her dreams, and find the courage to be one of a kind.

With an insider’s passion, Misty opens a window into the life of an artist who lives life center stage, from behind the scenes at her first classes to her triumphant roles in some of the world’s most iconic ballets. A sensational memoir as “sensitive” and “clear-eyed” (The Washington Post) as her dancing, Life in Motion is a story of passion, identity and grace for anyone who has dared to dream of a different life.

I really liked Life In Motion!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but I ended up liking it more than I thought I would.

I don’t follow ballet or dance so I wasn’t sure who Misty Copeland was before picking this book up.  It seemed interesting enough, so that’s why I picked it up.  I really liked reading her story, and it felt like I was getting a peek behind the curtain.  It’s a look into a world that seem so graceful when you’re looking at it from the outside, but I really appreciated an insider’s perspective.  There were times where it felt like she was name-dropping a lot, even though I didn’t recognize most of the names.

Still, she had a lot of support, and even though it’s glazed over, I got the sense that she wanted to do the same. The Boys and Girls Club was where she got her start in ballet, and it seems like she’s never forgotten that.  Again, it seems like she’s very grateful for the opportunities she got there, and wants to pay it forward.

I was surprised that she started ballet late in life, at least for a dancer.  I have this image in my head that all professional dancers have been dancing since they were little kids, and Misty does not fit in that image.  She seems like a pretty quick study, and really determined to be the best ballerina she could be.

I really felt for Misty- she didn’t have an easy home life, but it really seemed like her mom had good intentions.  She seemed to have a great relationship with her siblings, and they seemed pretty supportive of Misty’s dreams.  She did live with her ballet teacher for a while, so she could focus more on her ballet, and that definitely put her at odds with her family at times, particularly when Misty filed for emancipation.

I admire Misty’s strength and passion, and reaching to young dancers was really important to her.  Her mantra, this is for the brown girls, was a strong message throughout the book, but particularly towards the end of the book.  I cried when she got the role of the Firebird, and it was so important to her, that you couldn’t help but cry and feel happy for her.

The writing itself was okay, and while the book was mostly linear, it did seem to jump around a little.  It was also repetitive at times, particularly with a couple of injuries she had.  And this is slightly random, but I thought her usage of mommy throughout the entire book was a little odd but to each their own.

4 stars.  Overall, I really liked Copeland’s memoir.  There were some things I didn’t like but I loved reading her story.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland

  1. Ooh this seems interesting. I think I’ve heard her name before, but don’t know who she is. Maybe I’ll try to grab this from the library.

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