10 May, 2015

REVIEW: TAKING FLIGHT by Michaela DePrince

Title: Taking Flight
Author: Michaela DePrince
Series: -
Genres: Autobiography
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Source: Physical copy
Pages: 256

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SYNOPSIS: The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet. Michaela DePrince was known as girl Number 27 at the orphanage, where she was abandoned at a young age and tormented as a "devil child" for a skin condition that makes her skin appear spotted. But it was at the orphanage that Michaela would find a picture of a beautiful ballerina en pointe that would help change the course of her life.
At the age of four, Michaela was adopted by an American family, who encouraged her love of dancing and enrolled her in classes. She went on to study at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre and is currently a member of the Dutch National Ballet’s junior company. She has appeared in the ballet documentary "First Position," as well as on "Dancing with the Stars, Good Morning America," and "Nightline."
In this engaging, moving, and unforgettable memoir, Michaela shares her dramatic journey from an orphan in West Africa to becoming one of ballet's most exciting rising stars.

I knew beforehand who Michaela DePrince was because I saw the documentary she was on, First Position (2011). In the documentary the spectators are able to see her progress and rehearse as she is about to compete on Youth America Grand Prix which is one of the most prestigious ballet competitions and every year thousands of dancers audition and compete hoping to get noticed either by winning medals or more importantly, a scholarship. Michaela was one of those young dancers competing (she was 14 at the time) and apart from pulling my eye because of her strong technique and her passion it was her story that got me.

I am not an avid reader of autobiographies, I believe this is either the first or second I have ever read... but I am truly glad and thankful to Michaela for sharing her story because it is one of the most inspirational ones I have ever heard of. She had to go through uncountable horrors during her childhood, four years old and had already gone through one nightmare after another until finally she was adopted by an American family. That was the beginning of Michaela's dream. As the summary already says, tiny Michaela found hope on a ballerina she saw on the cover of a magazine that by some kind of miracle flew right to her face, literally. When she was adopted she had to overcome everything she had lived while in Sierra Leone and luckily she counted with a supporting new family. Surrounded by such a environment she flourished, as a person, as a ballerina, as herself. She wasn't the "devil's child" anymore, she was Michaela DePrince.
I have to say I found Michaela to be an inspiration and I can't thank her enough for being one of my role models.

OVERALL: Perfect. I don't care about how good or bad written it is or how many "fancy" words this book has. The point of this book is to inspire people. To make them open their eyes to the world's horrors and it does, oh yes it does. I recommend this book to everyone even if autobiographies are not your cup of tea, trust me I am that type. Taking Flight is life changing, it drives you to become a better person, to work hard to achieve your dreams...
Don't worry about the ballet part either, ballet was her choice and dream but the endurance can be applied to anyone's dream whatever it might be.

BONUS: I also recommend to watch the documentary First Position and Michaela's 2014 TEDx speech. Of course the book should be the main focus but if you don't feel like reading it those two are very nice options as well.

First Position - Official Trailer | HD | IFC Films
(full movie can be purchased on the official website here)

From "devil's child" to star ballerina | Michaela DePrince | TEDxAmsterdam


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