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Girl Through Glass

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  3,171 ratings  ·  352 reviews
In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parent’s divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 26th 2016 by Harper
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Average rating 3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,171 ratings  ·  352 reviews

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Joe Valdez
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Surfing between authors whose work gives them favored nations status and classics I want to read are those books with synopses that sizzle like a fuse being lit on a cannon. I am ready to be shot through the air. This thrill seeking brought me to Girl Through Glass, a debut novel from Sari Wilson. Published in 2016, the story takes place in the world of ballet schools in New York City of the late 1970s. My only visit to NYC was in 1979 when I was six years old, so my impressions of the Big Apple ...more

I like my ballet novels like I like my pointe shoes: pink and shiny on the outside, edged with aging bloodstains on the inside. Smooth with satiny allure from one angle, frayed and shattering from the others. Quiet as pattering tiptoes sometimes, but sometimes as cloppingly loud as a galloping horse. Spackled with resin and stitched and bound together with viselike ribbons. Stuffed with bloody lambswool so the sh
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction, dance
This is a debut novel about a young ballerina in New York City in the late 1970s. I love the ballet*, and I thought it would be neat to read about the period from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl, named Mira.

The novel alternates between Mira in the 1970s, when she was enrolled in a highly competitive ballet school and her family life is in turmoil, and the present day, when she is now a professor and dance historian who calls herself Kate. There is a reason why she changed her name, and t
Feb 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
A book about BALLET! Yes, yes, yes, YES!!! Sign me up! I ordered this ages ago and was so excited when it finally showed up at my library.

But....I struggled hard to get into this book. The writing is overly affected and showy; formal, with odd observations, almost as if Wilson was trying too hard to impress. The story is narrated in the first person for chapters taking place in the present and in the third person in chapters taking place in the past. The chapters alternate and it's a jarring jux
Julie Christine
A novel that begins quietly, at a fragile, cool remove, Girl Through Glass seeps under the skin until a feverish abandon takes hold and you think about this book when you are meant to be doing other things, waiting until the day's demands are complete and you can return to the New York City ballet world, circa late 70s/early 80s.

Preteen Mira has been graced with the physical form and stamina, the mental acuity and discipline, and an inherent musicality that propel her swiftly and surely into th
Book Riot Community
CALLING ALL BUNHEADS: This is a great psychological drama about ballet! It follows two narratives: Mira is an eleven-year-old ballet dancer with big dreams, and divorcing parents, during the summer of 1977 in NYC; Kate is a present-day dance instructor at a midwestern college who is having a forbidden affair with a student. When Kate receives a letter from a man she thought was dead, it hurtles her back into her past. Can either of them get beyond the drama (and bad choices) to achieve their amb ...more
Zoe Zolbrod
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you grew up, especially as a girl, in the 1970s and 80s, you probably remember how glamorized the Russian-infused New York ballet world was. Pavlova perfume, anyone? Baryshnikov? The Turning Point? It's a thrill to see this world from the perspective of an adolescent making her way within it, the exquisite beauty juxtaposed with the gritty reality and interlaced with a powerful mystery that takes decades to unfold. This suspenseful, evocative, and skillfully written book alternates between ch ...more
I am astounded that so many people gave this book rave reviews. Like "The Walking Dead" is a drama described to the media via the backdrop of zombies, so is Girl Through Glass a novel that claims to be "[a]n enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming of age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and the quest for perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence," yet is really just a tale of molestation, neglect, and lack of sel ...more
Latanya (Crafty Scribbles)
May 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ballet lovers; ballerinas; drama fans
(Full Review at

“Maybe the people who tell you to trust them can’t be trusted, and the people who ask nothing are the ones who are there when you need them.”

Novels and films about ballet enthrall me, especially the stories regarding the psychological torture ballerinas often put themselves through to achieve the perfect Arabesque silhouette. Jealousy, doubt, and anxiety mesh to create a jumbo for which the dance thrives, and no one's immune to the belly of the beast behin
Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Girl Through Glass explores a lost New York through the eyes of a gifted young dancer struggling to harnass the ecstatic power she wields-- over her audience, her family, and the grown man who wants to make her his muse. Lush with the shame and exhilaration that lies at the lip of adolescence, Sari Wilson's debut novel is a carefully crafted observation of the risks of celebrating precocity. ...more
I'm not going to rate this one because I am DNFing at 60 pages in. I fell in love with the cover and the blurb, but not the writing. For me, it seemed like the author was trying too hard to be edgy and deep. Just didn't work for me. ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two of my reading goals for the year: (1) read new releases and (2) take more chances. Girl Through Glass was pre-ordered, and it's way off course from my usual hunting ground. In a way, I would describe it as an "Oprah's book club" type work (no offense intended, but emotional dramas are not my thing). And yet, despite the ease of translating this into a Lifetime Movie script (shudder, again, no offense, just not for un-romantic me), I was swept away by Wilson's lyricism, her profound observati ...more
Melissa Stacy
DNF on page 38

**unmarked spoilers ahead**

I picked up this book because I love works of art that pull back the veneer on the harsh, gritty, uncaring world of ballet, and I love literary fiction. I thought that Sari Wilson's 2016 literary novel, "Girl Through Glass," would deliver both in spades.

I expected to read the literary version of one of my favorite movies: the 2003 Robert Altman indie film/almost-docu-drama, "The Company," about an aspiring ballerina performing with the renowned Joffrey B
Jean Kwok
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Powerful. Gripping. Incandescent. These are only a few of the words circling my mind after reading GIRL THROUGH GLASS. This beautifully written novel drew me into the rarified world of dance, filled with passion, glory and heartbreak. As powerful storytelling kept me turning the pages, Wilson’s extraordinary voice whispered to me about the things that both bind and divide us: desire, ambition and love. This book will stay in my heart for a long time.
reading is my hustle
There is some really beautiful writing and imagery here but the story is mostly lacking.
Elizabeth S
Sep 28, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I mentally debated giving this book two stars because there was some pretty good writing, but in the end, I just can't do it. Every time I remember reading this book, all I feel is some sort of unpleasant, annoyed sensation inside.

First and foremost, Girl Through Glass turns out wildly different from what the description indicates. This can be totally fine - great, even! - as long as the actual narrative is an improvement upon what you expected. This one was not.

In the 1970s is Mira, a youn
Carly Thompson
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was some good stuff in here, but a good amount of the book felt overrefined to me. It seemed more concerned with ornament than soul, and it left me wanting soul. The pacing of the reveal didn't sit right with me either, feeling like it made the book into a different book once or twice along the way. It left things feeling unfinished and I didn't feel satisfied with the finishes that were provided. I thought it relied on the ornamentation to get beyond that, and it just didn't sit well with ...more
Oct 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I'm conflicted about how to rate this. The unpleasant squirmy feeling was obviously intentional, yet still squirmy and unpleasant. Four stars for execution, two stars for enjoyableness, I guess? And if there were half stars, I would give it an extra one for being about ballet dancers. ...more
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It is hard to classify this book as anything other than about dance and about life and as they merge into one. Sari has woven a tapestry that blends with reality and had me wondering what parts of this book were truly fictitious. The raw emotion and passion of the young girl can be felt through t the pages, just as the loss of self can be felt in the woman.

There are events that you can feel unfolding, and yet they
Emily M
Inexplicably, I love novels about ballet. While this one doesn't stand up quite as strongly to the other few I've read so far (Maggie Shipstead's Astonish Me, Meg Howry's The Cranes Dance, Colum McCann's Dancer), it is still a worthy and interesting read.

I think my major gripe with the novel is that, up until the last fifty pages or so, it feels very much like two novels. The surprises at the end aside, it was not difficult to see how the past and present would converge, but the two story lines
Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
Disturbing read about an 11 year old ballerina named Mira who becomes enamored with a man 3 times her age. The story is split into two narratives--Mira's story in the 1970's and Kate's in the present moment. As their tales unravel, secrets are revealed and the consequences of Mira's relationship with Maurice come to light.

This is not a book that I would want to read again. I thought that writing is beautiful, and I loved reading about the ballet. However, reading about Mira and Maurice's relatio
Shannon A
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A stunning debut novel.
This raw & true-to-life behind-the-satin and ribbons story will shock you as much as the beauty and grace that mesmerizes you.
This debut story is brilliantly crafted & simply exquisite; Wilson describes Mira's cult-like, competitive, obsessive, exquisite beautiful world unlike any other author I've read. I couldn't put this book down. Loved this.
Dec 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I usually write reviews chronologically, but I feel compelled to review this one first because it is without question one of the best books I read in 2015. To be clear upfront, this is a great novel but it is often an unpleasant one and the topic(s) will turn off some readers. It is far from identical...this is much broader, focused on a different player, and involves a very different relationship...but I couldn't help but think of Lolita, a beautiful telling of a disturbing tale and a reference ...more
Sheila DeChantal
Girl Through Glass has a delicious darkness to it. It is well written, beautifully actually at times, but this is not a lighthearted story. Told in alternating chapters, as the reader we are slowly let into the what happened then…. that lead to the happenings now. The journey unravels as the two stories work their towards one another.

As I often do when books are told in alternating perspectives… I find myself leaning to one story line over the other. In this case it was young Mira’s story that d
Beth Knight
May 18, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
This is a novel told from the past (late 70s and early 80s) and the present. I liked the "past" parts better, when Mirabelle was a young ballet dancer living in New York. It's a slightly dark novel, which I tend to like. It was more of a 3.5 star book for me. ...more
Christian Paula
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy cats, this book is amazing. Propulsive, physical and utterly captivating. I could not put it down and when I did, all I wanted to do was pick it back up. More people need to read this, whether you care about ballet or not.
Angela Demott
This could also be titled: "Astonish Me Lite: a Less Interesting, Less Provocative, Less . . . Balletic Version of Maggie Shipstead's Novel." ...more
Jun 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: age-adult, 2018
In the present, dance professor Kate engages in an affair with a female student and begins to look into her past. In the past, a young ballerina named Mira struggles against her mother's indifference and her parents' impending divorce to become one of the favored students in the most prestigious ballet school in New York City. Mira has a benefactor, an older man, and as that relationship grows, and Mira works closer to her dream, her and Kate's narratives collide.

Unsurprisingly, Mira is (view sp
Did not love this book.

Did love the author's expert handling of movement. Her description of weight transfer in contact improvisation vs. ballet partnering was expert and poetic.
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Sari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York, was on scholarship at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

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