Murder Bunheads, the YA Series

Mmmm, this was the YA duology I badly needed, you guys. Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton saw into my soul and recognized that I have had a slightly grim reading year this far and that I needed a ballet boarding school book, the soapier the better. Tiny Pretty Things and its sequel Shiny Broken Pieces were there in the clinch.

Tiny Pretty Things

What a perfect book (and sequel) for my mood. Tiny Pretty Things follows three narrators at the American Ballet Conservatory: Bette, the blonde legacy ballerina whose bullying hounded another girl out of school the year before; June, who struggles with an eating disorder and always finds herself in second place; and Gigi, a rising star in the conservatory with an eye on Bette’s boyfriend. The book acknowledges that the ballet school is very white, but our narrators are more diverse: June is Korean, and Gigi is black. In a world of not nearly enough books about cutthroat ballet academies, there are catastrophically not nearly enough books about cutthroat ballet academies with protagonists of color.

As you’ll have gleaned from the previous paragraph, while these books are a lot of fun if Murder Bunheads are your thing (they are absolutely my thing, I would read a thousand books about Murder Bunheads), they do deal with some difficult topics you may not be in the mood for. June has an eating disorder, Bette pops pills, there’s racism in the ballet (shocking, I know), and there’s an unsuccessful suicide attempt in the second book as well as a severe allergic reaction leading to hospitalization. Plus, I mean, obviously bullying. THE MOST bullying.

“HOW ARE THESE BOOKS FUN THEN JENNY?” you may be screaming, and look, I don’t have a good answer. I like reading about Murder Bunheads, and I have done since I was a wee tot and I picked up Battle of the Bunheads at a book sale in Maine. These books are fun because the characters keep thinking of absolutely awful things to do to each other. Nobody is above it. Everyone is terrible. I would hate it if they were in any other setting, but since they’re in a ballet school I ate it up with a spoon.

  • Oh heck yes, I am here for Murder Bunheads. What a lovely name for a very specific genre.

  • I’m glad you found the perfect set of books for your mood! That’s important, especially these days. The ballet world is not something I know much about. I saw my first ballet since childhood at the end of December. Of course, it was The Nutcracker. I don’t know why I was surprised by how white the dancers and the audience were, but I was.

  • Lol Sometimes watching awful people tear each other apart is very cathartic

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    It’s like Lord of the Flies in ballet school instead of on an island! Glad you found a couple books that did the trick for you!

  • Nishita

    OMG. I’ve never heard of these books. My daughter is hard-core into ballet, and so I may not want to read these books. But still, they sound like a lot of fun!

  • I actually completely see the appeal of this type of book, because I’m always fascinated when I read their descriptions.So far, the bullying has put me off too much to pick on up though. I hate reading about kids being horrible to each other. I loved reading about how much you loved this one though! Even with all the focus we need to have on fixing the current political situation, we still deserve some fun and light in our lives 🙂