Hope in a Ballet Shoe – Michela & Elaine DePrince

Hope in a Ballet Shoe is a memoir of a ballet dancer Michela or Mabinty Bangura. Ballet Dancing does not make Michela special but the struggle of her life does. While growing up her family was ripped apart by a civil war in Sierra Leone. Her father was murdered by rebels, her mother falls sick and dies. Her uncle gives her away to an orphanage in near by town as he hates girl child.

The life in orphanage was not an easy one. Aunty Fathima, one of a care taker hates her and tortures her when she gets an opportunity. Michela finds hope in her maths teacher in the orphanage. Unfortunately, she was also murdered by rebels in front of her eyes. Her teacher once brings a magazine for Michela, where she was first introduced to the concept of Ballet. Michela’s only respite in the orphanage was her best friend, Elaine.

The orphanage gives away kids from the orphanage for adoption to American families. Michela was not sure whether any family will adopt her because of spots on her skin since her birth. She was teased as ‘Leopard Child’.  But as the luck will have it, one American family adopts Elaine and her. Best friends becomes sisters from that point onward.

In America, the life was a struggle of different type. Racial prejudices present not only in the world of dance but also in modern day America makes it more difficult for her to become a professional ballerina.  Dedication, determination, family ties, a lot to learn from the book. A movie has been published based on the story of Michela.

The book is written in simple language, which makes it possible for younger kids to read. I will recommend this book for younger teenagers probably 12 upwards. Michela stresses on the importance of understanding cultural differences. This is a truly inspiring book but you may need couple of tissues while reading.

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