of the week

Llanelli Star - - FAMILY MATTERS -


by Catherine Bru­ton, Nosy Crow, pa­per­back £6.99, ebook £4.74.

★★★★ ★

AS MANY dance-obsessed young­sters will know, read­ing about dance can feel al­most as mag­i­cal as a per­for­mance it­self.

Catherine Bru­ton’s lat­est YA/ chil­dren’s novel beau­ti­fully cap­tures the won­der and spirit of bal­let. There’s a deeper pur­pose to the story, how­ever: 11-year-old Aya, her mum and baby brother are seeking asy­lum in Eng­land after flee­ing war-torn Syria.

Join­ing a lo­cal bal­let class in Manch­ester con­nects Aya with the life she knew back in Aleppo, be­fore the bomb­ing started and her world turned up­side down.

Flash­backs hint at some of the traumas Aya has been through, while vis­its to the fam­ily’s asy­lum case worker be­tween dance classes help ex­plain the chal­lenges chil­dren like Aya face.

Bru­ton han­dles the topic gen­tly and sen­si­tively. There’s no pol­i­tics – this is all about hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence, us­ing dance and friend­ship to demon­strate how, re­ally, we’re all the same, no mat­ter where we’re from.

As Madam Olen­ska, one of the dance teach­ers in the book, says: “Bal­let knows no borders.”

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