Love reaches far beyond words
When she was growing up, a deaf child in foster care, dancing gave Lauren Ramsey a sense of belonging. Now she’s a prima ballerina with her own dance studio; everything’s finally going right. And then lawyer Jason Hawkins turns up and drops a bombshell: Lauren’s unknown father has left her a fortune. Well, Jason can take that money and shove it. Except…he can’t. Once he sees Lauren dancing, he can’t stay away…
The Ballerina’s Stand (A Chair at the Hawkins Table #4) by Angel Smits
If this had been a book about a former dancer-turned social worker, I think this would be close to a five-star read. The author clearly knows social work, and has clearly done a HUGE amount of research into sign language and the day-to-day issues a deaf person faces. I didn’t know how she was going to have a hearing hero who doesn’t know how to sign with a deaf heroine, but she pulled it off.
However, the book shows a lack of understanding of the sacrifice, dedication, and time it takes to be a professional dancer or athlete, which ultimately meant I could not love it.
The good? Heaps of it, if you forget the heroine is supposed to be an international ballet star.
The author finds a perfect balance in the communication. She creates a hero who cares enough to enrol in sign language lessons. He considers the obstacles, is frustrated by them, but is determined. It really makes you think, and makes you aware of all the different little ways a deaf person lives on a day to day basis.
She then adds layer upon layer of complications, giving the heroine an injury that totally takes away her ability to communicate, which terrifies her. She raises the stakes so well, and throws so many obstacles in her characters’ paths, but it never feels melodramatic. (Though sex straight out of the emergency room seems a little unlikely.)
She also makes use of so many different kinds of people, adding all sorts of diversity without making it preachy.
And it is always really nice to come across a hero who is a genuinely decent guy. He has fallen into this serious relationship before he even realises what has happened.
My problem with the book is this: the alleged world famous ballerina heroine NEVER trains!
Ballet is more than a full-time job. You dance from 10:30am to 10:30pm SIX DAYS A WEEK. And you do not do it on your own. You go to work the way other people go to the office (but put in double or triple the hours). You sign in at your “office”. You take company class in the mornings, rehearse with the company through to the evening, and then dance onstage with the company at night. You have teachers and coaches, whether you’re five or fifty-five.
And in between those dozens and dozens of hours of hard work there are costume fittings and photo shoots and media calls to attend, Pilates classes to take, physiotherapy appointments.
The hero of this book was always working, but the heroine never did a thing. She spends the entire book meeting people for lunches, and hanging out with foster kids, and teaching children, and running her own business. Not once does she have anything to do with the ballet company she allegedly dances for.
Start this video at 1:40 to begin to get an idea of what it takes:
A day in the life of a principal dancer:
This book’s heroine goes weeks at a time without checking in at work! Nobody can do that, no matter how easy or mundane their job. She would always be considering her health, her diet and her fitness. You’re straight out of hospital? On crutches? Dying? Nine months pregnant? You still go into the company studio, and you still train for hours.
There are plenty of little mistakes about ballet throughout (little children don’t dance en pointe, and nobody has danced on a wooden stage for decades). A ballet career certainly doesn’t end at twenty-five, as implied here. Most of the ballet stars in the world today are over thirty.
Ultimately, this is a very good book about a lawyer and a *social worker*, not a book about a lawyer and a ballet dancer. I wish someone who knew the ballet world had given this a proofread, because it could have been a much more believable book.