First Position by Melissa Brayden
Publication Date: August 16, 2016.
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books.
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Adult, and Lesbian.
Selling points: Diversity in ballet, opposites attract and beautiful character development.
Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository
Synopsis: Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She’s sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as The Ice Queen doesn’t faze her. Though Ana’s at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she’s worked for in jeopardy.
While Natalie Frederico has shown herself to be a prodigy when it comes to ballet, she much prefers modern dance and living on her own terms. Life is too short for anything else. However, when the opportunity to dance with the New York City Ballet is thrust upon her, it’s not like she could say no. Dealing with the company’s uptight lead is another story, however. When the two are forced to work side-by-side, sparks begin to fly onstage and off.
Thank you, Bold Strokes Books, for my review copy of First Position. I received this review copy in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the review copy and are subject to change upon publication.
First Position is a really great book. It’s a book I want to say I love, even if it has its flaws. This book explores the ballet community, injuries, love, emotions, and unexpected change, and it does it so well. First Position is a book about opposites attracting, the passion within, and in the end, it also explores what’s truly important in life.
“Jeans and a soft-looking white T-shirt. No dance clothes. No shoes. Ana looked like a person. A very pretty person, in fact. Her hair was down, and it fell just past her shoulders in subtle waves, thick and dark.”
What I love about First Position is slowly but surely getting to know Ana and Natalie. This book is about rivals turning into lovers, and to see that in a ballet environment with two girls is absolutely amazing. They go through so much, both good and bad, and at times this book even made me cry. It is raw, genuine and isn’t afraid to explore topics that professional athletes often face. Seeing Ana and Natalie grow, both as individuals and as a couple is something I love about First Position. They constantly challenge each other, support each other, and their love for each other is one I think is really important.
“The music began and they leapt into motion. Dancing side by side. Ana took her by the hand and led her upstage, never breaking eye contact. Natalie moved into her body and then away, just as always, only this time her temperature climbed. She spun. They danced, Ana’s hands on her waist, her stomach, her thighs. The flashes of emotion, the give and take of the characters, added a whole other element, and dancing through that dynamic with Ana…had her body thrumming beneath Ana’s touch.”
This story is electric, magical and if you are a fan of books about ballet then First Position is a must read in my book. It shows its reader that ballet does not have to be a white and straight space, where there is only room for classic dances between men and women. This book shows us that there can be so much more, and that is the most captivating thing about it. This book breaks boundaries within the ballet and dancing world, and it is not afraid to do so.
The biggest flaw this book had, and the reason I cannot give it five cake slices, is Audrey, one of the major side characters. In the book, she made several comments that really just felt wrong. Honestly, I wish her character had been completely cut out from the book, or just changed because she served no purpose and did more harm than good.
“What? Do I look worried? I’m not worried. That is just my Russian face.”
All in all, First Position is a story about love, acceptance, trauma and finding where you belong in the world. It’s beautiful, funny and a little bit sad, but what First Position really managed to make me feel is hopeful. Sometimes life doesn’t end up the way you expect it to, but that just means new doors open, and a beautiful new thing is waiting for you.