Kayla attends Florida Arts High School (which everyone calls Farts) with her older sister Paterson. She attends the school for their dance section while Paterson attends the school for their art section. Kayla has been a ballet dancer for all her life and loves every moment of it, even when Melissa (who's like Malfoy in HP) continues to irritate Kayla. Kayla is entering her junior year at Farts and it really excited. She spent her summer in NYC perfecting her technique at a wonderful ballet school and can't wait to put her new technique to use and win the coveted role of Cinderella in the ballet production of Cinderella.
When auditions come, she preforms wonderfully. The next day when the roles have been cast everyone is crowding around to see who's gotten which position. Lourdes, one of Kayla's friends has received the role of Cinderella (and although Kayla really wanted that part she's glad it went to Lourdes). Although Kayla is bummed she still can get a decent part by playing one of the seasons - but no. Her role is playing that of one of the ugly step-sisters! Even though she landed the understudy role of Cinderella, her true role is that of an ugly step-sister. Later that day Kayla's dance instructor calls her into her office to explain the decisioning. Timm (with two ems) whose company is producing the play, decided not to cast Kayla as Cinderella because she is rather 'well endowed' and does not have the 'typical' female ballerina body. He does recognizer her talent, but her lady friends are just too much.
The next day a pair of red pointe shows with a note "dancing in red shoes will kill you" appear in the dance studio. Rumors start to swirl about who and why they were placed there. Of course Melissa takes this opportune moment to cast suspicion towards Kayla. The question though remains who put them there and is it a legitimate threat? Will someone actually die if they were red pointe shoes while preforming Cinderella?
This was such a quick and light read. The message of the book was very easy to grasp without having to dig for it: girls should not have to conform to the "norm" just to 'fit in'. Kayla with her rather large chest would have had to had breast reduction surgery if she wanted to continue in the main areas of ballet; she doesn't have the typical body of a female ballerina - which I assume is tiny everywhere. In the book Paterson, Gray, and Kayla were talking about fairy tales and the implications the message has for young women. In the olden days (before Disney changed them) the tales were more like the true Brothers Grimm tales - there was not happily every after for the women.
Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone. NY (c) 2005