I had seen Misty Copeland mentioned here and there but I forgot what it was that compelled me to pick up her book. I thought her story was very intriguing. Although I only had a passing interest in ballet as a child (I took lessons for a few months but it was clear I had no talent for it, had a college friend who was a minor ballerina in a company), Copeland's story sounded very compelling.
It's her life and times from her childhood to dance. From living in relatively unstable circumstances (her mother had multiple marriages and multiple children form those relationships and the family moved every few years when their mom found someone new) to being "discovered" as a ballerina to her emancipation battle and then onto her career and success. She might seem "young" to write an autobiography but it's clear her life is very different from other people who might have been in her position or even her fellow ballerinas.
I was surprised how much I liked it. I think I remember reading somewhere it felt like it was aimed towards young adults, and I agree with that. The writing is not exactly page-turning (and the ballet stuff sometimes made me bored as heck). I also often get the sense that Copeland might be restraining herself. For example, when she talks about the emancipation battle her mother waged with her then-guardian/teacher, Copeland talks about how she would not see her guardian/teacher for nearly 10 years, even though she would acknowledge throughout the book that she had learned a lot and had a stable household with Cindy.
It felt like there was a lot more to the custody/emancipation battle than what has been reported or what was in the book. I respect that Copeland probably needed to be discreet considering most, if not all the people who appear are likely still alive. But it just seems like her relationship ended in such a sad way that makes me a bit suspicious of both Copeland's mother and Cindy and Patrick Bradley in their motivations towards the author.
But I really enjoyed her thoughts and impressions as a ballerina. Being one of the few (if not only) black ballerinas (or ballerina of color) probably had an effect on her. I wonder if there were more/other ways her skin color affected how she was perceived, considered for parts, received in reviews, etc. However I really enjoyed reading her ascent to becoming a soloist with the American Ballet Theatre. As I wrote, some of the ballet jargon, company names, etc. aren't interesting, but an aspiring dancer might like it.
I'm glad I read it, but I would have been happier if I borrowed it from the library instead. It would make a great gift for anyone who is considering following in Misty's footsteps or finds her story interesting. And while some of the topics are a bit heavy (she came from a relatively unstable family background, her mom reported Copeland missing to the police as part of the custody battle, racism in the ballet/theater world), it's not painfully detailed: the author points out all her siblings have gone on to be relatively successful in their own ways, and that it was remarkable none of them have gone to jail or ended up doing drugs, she seems to recognize what she has gone through and is mostly at peace with it, etc.
I'd say a teenager or even a really interested pre-teen might really like her book if you are wondering if it's suitable for younger audiences. I'd recommend it.