Posts Tagged 1970s

book review: Girl Through Glass


Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson. Harper| January 2016| 304 pages | $25.99| ISBN: 9780062326270

RATING: *****/5*

Utilizing the ballet world in 1970s and 1980s New York, author Sari Wilson provides a fascinating and dark character study in her debut novel Girl Through Glass. Readers are introduced to 11-year-old Mira, a talented ballerina with immense potential. She’s forced to become savvy and self-sufficient after her mother and father divorce. Perhaps Mira develops an unusual [and rather disturbing] relationship with 47-year-old Maurice because she’s essentially without parental guidance and attention most of the time. Mira’s mom isn’t like other ballet moms – perhaps the equivalent of today’s helicopter parents—but she’s rather a free spirit occupied by her own interests rather than those of her daughter. Wilson writes: “Ballet mothers pack tiny, neatly wrapped sandwiches of sardines (good for the bones), little plastic bags of celery and carrot sticks, and yogurt with prunes.”

“But Mira’s mother makes Mira chickpea sandwiches on bread that crumbles when she touches it. Mira’s mother wears orange jumpsuits and culottes, and drops her off and leaves her to do errands, floating in at the end of class, smelling fresh and sour, lie the ocean and a cloudy day.”

Dance becomes Mira’s escape and addiction. This warps her self-esteem and sense of self. She begins investing as much time as she can to ballet and her body, even counting calories with anorexic obsession as she earns a spot at the prestigious School of American Ballet under the direction of legendary George Balanchine.  At this point she’s living with her father and his new wife while her mother searches for self-fulfillment in California. While Mira might be a street-smart New Yorker she’s also still a teenager when something unimaginable shatters her idyllic cocoon.

In present day, Kate, a professor of dance and dance historian at a midwestern college. concentrates on illuminating the cutthroat world of ballet—that Black Swan-type competitive focus on perfection, being the best at all costs and winnowing out the wheat from the chaff.  Kate re-invented herself after a tumultuous event and retreats into a new career although she remains involved with dance in another facet. She’s not abandoned her passion, she’s merely grown-up and into a fresher perspective on it. Kate’s liaison with a student shifts her trajectory. She also receives a mysterious letter from a man she knew in her childhood. She travels to New York to sleuth out what happened to this man who nearly destroyed her 30 years prior.

A former ballet dancer, Wilson provides intimate details about New York’s ballet scene. While this isn’t solely a novel about the ballet world, girls straddling the line between youth and adulthood provides fascinating reading. The novel flawlessly describes the razor sharp focus on becoming the best, earning a particular status and securing one’s place in this strange world overflowing with beauty and sacrifice. And what happens to all those girls who aren’t’ quite the best? Those girls who do not make the right school or earn a place in a prestigious ballet company? This absorbing, riveting novel does what a wonderful novel can do: it completely transports readers to a specific time and place in such an effective and specific manner that one thinks about the subject and characters well past finishing the last page.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Harper.



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Women’s History Month: focus on 1970s [guess I’ll only get to the 80s]

1970—writer Joyce Carol Oates receives National Book Award for the novel Them.

1970—jockey Diana Crump is the first woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby.

1971—singer Carole King releases Tapestry. More than 10 million copies are sold in the United States.

1971—feminist writers Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin become two of the founding editors of Ms. magazine.

1972—novelist/ short-story writer Eudora Welty wins Pulitzer Prize for The Optimist’s Daughter.

1972—Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment [ERA].

1972—Title IX of the Education Amendments added to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

1974—tennis player Chris Evert wins the French Open and Wimbledon.

1977—actress Meryl Streep appears in her first film, Julia.

1977—Debbi Fields founds Mrs. Fields Cookies, Inc.


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DVD review: Life on Mars: Series 2

Title: Life on Mars: Series 2 (UK)
Starring: John Simm, Philip Glenister, Liz White, and Dean Andrews
Running time: 468 minutes
MPAA: Not Rated
Release date: November 24, 2009
MPAA: unrated
Studio: Acorn Media
Review source: Acorn Media
Rating: A-

Life on Mars is a surreal, gripping and sometimes amusing [the writers chose the 70s for a reason] BBC original series, Detective Inspector Sam Tyler [John Simm] gets hit by a car in 2006 and wakes up in 1973 in his own Manchester precinct. He cannot believe it is 1973 or any of this is real. This is the nightmare from which he cannot awake. Everything is foreign to him and he cannot grasp how outdated and seemingly backwards everything is in 1973. The other detectives behave boorishly and in an unregulated manner that often does not sit well with Tyler. Yet to work with this force, he has to come to terms it. And in Series 2, he looks the part even though he acts much more modern. Tyler’s friendship with Annie [Liz White], an officer in the women’s division of the force [he treats her as an equal and values her input on cases], blossoms into a romance. Finally! There was so much will they/won’t they in Series 1. Life on Mars makes everyone in 1973 daft, chauvinistic, and almost savage. Tyler has managed to break many of his fellow officers’ of their bad habits but he still has issues. Now Tyler is back out on cases, trying to stay sane from the voices he hears in his head [hospital monitors beeping, his mother calling his name] and strange people in the street and television characters talking to him. In the past, he runs into his greatest case from the future who he now believes is tormenting him at his bedside. Tyler is obsessed with taking this guy down NOW in the 70s. He’s in limbo: getting called into the future but physically stuck in the past. Life on Mars is a well-written, clever program with a mix of vintage and present tone and style. The tense storylines and unpredictable nature of the show will keep you on edge, particularly with the intense ending.

Bonus Features:

“The Return of Life on Mars” documentary (45 min.)
Bonus behind-the-scenes footage for episodes 3, 5, and 7 and tour of the set (48 min.)
“The End of Life on Mars” featurette (28 min.)

 –review by Amy Steele

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