This book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.
“Dancing was truly the only thing that mattered” (27). Marie strives every day to accomplish her dream of performing at the Paris Opera House and floating across the dance floor. She is a beautiful and talented dancer and there is only one thing standing in the way of her dream: poverty. Marie Dancing is a exciting and interesting novel. The author, Carolyn Meyer, tells a wonderful story about a young dancer named Marie Van Goethem and her hardships growing up in Paris while carrying her family on her back. She weaves a captivating tale while staying true to the historical background and incorporating the famous painter, Edgar Degas. Carolyn Meyer has written many successful historical novels for young readers. She lives with her husband is Albuquerque, New Mexico and continues to publish best sellers.
Marie Van Goethem is a kind hearted teenager who puts everyone before herself. I love the way the author describes her hardships and every day her will to survive. Marie wakes up every day in a small rusted bed next to her other siblings. She is up at the crack of dawn starving her stomach hungry and not fed for several days. She walks by herself to her only joy in life: dance. All day she works hard, her dreams high and pointe shoes ratted. Despite her aching feet and limbs, she is determined to going. She gets home at dark to an unhappy family filled with sadness and despair. Her mother takes Marie’s hard earned money and spends it on liquor to soothe her sorrows. With all that is going on, Marie must take care of her younger sister, Charlotte, and provide for her what she needs. On her father’s death bed he asked her “You- my good, sweet dearest Marie I’m asking you to hold the family together” (25). Trying to live up to the promise she made to her father, Marie feels obligated to put her family’s needs before her own.
One day, Marie is at dance class gliding across the smooth floor when Monsieur Degas sees Marie and asks for her to model for him. This changes Marie’s luck. Perhaps she does finally have a chance as a prima ballerina. If she chooses to model for Degas, everything could change when Marie. The money she would earn would allow her to follow her dreams and break free from her family. Marie finally agrees to model for Monsieur Degas, and he promises to make her ùne étoile- a star.
Marie over comes many challenges in the book; hunger, sadness, and many losses plague her day to day life. The book is a great read, but I feel that the author does not express Marie’s emotion very clearly. However, I fully recommended reading this book. In the book Marie Dancing I love how the author told some of the story in French. Therefore, reading this book actually ended up helping me learn some new vocabulary in French! I also really enjoyed how Carolyn Meyer used details of the scenery. I felt as if I were actually in Paris!
I fully recommend reading this book. The author captures all the fascinating elements of dance and the will to survive. This book is a heart warming book that had me wondering what was going to happen next. I plan to start reading more of Carolyn Meyer’s books over the summer.
-Grace L., 7th grade