hope in a ballet shoe

Hope in a Ballet Shoe – My Book Review

hope in a ballet shoeHope in a Ballet Shoe is a book that I just recently finished reading. I really enjoyed this book as it was a true account of dancer Michaela DePrince and her struggles as a child coming out of war torn Sierra Leone and being adopted by Elaine and Charles DePrince, who were part of an American Family. Michaela was born in 1995 and taken to America in 1999.

Her passion for dance came about when she found a copy of dance magazine when she was very young, with a ballet dancer on the front cover doing a retire en pointe. She wanted to be just like that ballerina, and the book tells of her life long passion for classical ballet and how she beat all the odds to achieve her dream.

The beginning of the book is very sad, as it tells of her life, the poverty, loss of her parents, abuse from her uncle and experiences of death that she faced when she lived in Sierra Leone.  Expect to shed a whole lot of tears here.

To top it all she also suffers from a rare skin condition called vitiligo, which she was also teased about as a child.

Here is a preview of the book taking flight, which is the other book title about her life, very similar to Hope in a Ballet Shoe.


Once she gets adopted by Elaine and Charles DePrince, along with her best friend Mia, her life is changed forever, but she still battles with her inner demons and nightmares from her childhood. She also has lots of struggles because of the racism. Being a black classical ballerina just wasn’t heard of.

Michaela DePrince shot to fame when a ballet documentary featured her.  The documentary was called First Position and you can read more about it here.

Today she is an international ballet star and dances with the Dutch National Ballet Company.

Here is a video of her dancing a contemporary variation. Watch those beautiful suspended poses of hers.


Hope in a Ballet Shoe: Orphaned by War, Saved by Ballet: An Extraordinary True Story

Review found online of Hope in a Ballet Shoe

This is an amazing story on many levels.

The horrifying events and devastating losses of Ms. dePrinces’ childhood could easily have left her filled with fear, hate, despair and the inability to function at all.

Fortunately, this is an incredibly strong and determined child who moves through girlhood into womanhood with fierceness and grace.

It is also fortunate that she had contact with caring people at various critical moments and was adopted into an almost magically caring and loving family.

My only regret is that the horrors of her own childhood make this story of dedication, determination and devotion unsuitable for young girls to read.

Ironically it takes a certain level of maturity simply to read about the early years of this gallant and graceful young woman’s life, but what an inspirirational and eventual story it is.

7 thoughts on “Hope in a Ballet Shoe – My Book Review”

  1. Hi Michel,
    I read this book last year after a recommendation by my teenage daughter. We both found it to be a very inspiring read. I thought that Michaela’s journey was one of overcoming real adversity. It certainly made us very grateful for what we have in our lives.
    I was also in awe of the mother (who adopted her)as she must be an amazing woman.
    Have you seen her dance with the Dutch National Ballet Company? I think we’d all feel a connection with her when watching her dance on stage. As we know her real story and what she’s had to overcome to get to where she is today.
    Hopefully many others will read this too…

  2. What an incredible story inside Hope in a Ballet Shoe. Since as you said, it would be unsuitable for young children (also for me and other sensitives) maybe you could reach out to Michaela and Elaine DePrince? Maybe they would do a version for the very young girls that would be so inspired by her persistence and success! It’s a dream story really.

  3. “Never be afraid to be a poppy in a field of daffodils”

    I too am an artist. And my approach to my Art (and to my life) is not typical. Michaela DePrince’s comment toward the end of the book trailer deeply resonates with me.

    Thank you for this review. I need to read this book!

  4. What a fabulous and uplifting story! It is these types of stories that makes me able to get up in the morning!

    I do tend to disagree with you somewhat about the need to shelter children from the truths about the world that we live in. I think that just as Michaela survived and was strengthened by the horrors of her childhood, so too could other children learn about the difficulties of others to better understand their own positions.

    Can you at least see my point? Does anyone agree with me just a little?


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