Wednesday, January 25, 2017

YA Review: Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie

Spin the Sky by Jill MacKenzie
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Amazon Link: HERE
Received From: Publisher (in exchange for an honest review)

Summary (from Amazon):
Magnolia Woodson wants nothing more than to get her and her sister, Rose, out of the pitifully small, clamming-obsessed Oregon town that hates them—she just doesn't know how. Forced to put up with the snide comments and hateful looks the townspeople throw at them, Mags thinks she's destined to pay for the horrible, awful things her mom did—and that she's left her and Rose to deal with—until the day she dies.

But when a nationwide televised dance competition posts tryouts in nearby Portland, Mags's best friend, George, says they have to go and audition. Not only have they spent the past fourteen years of their lives dancing side-by-side, dreaming of a day just like this, but also it could be Mags's chance of a lifetime—a chance to win the grand-prize money and get her and Rose out of Summerland, a chance to do the thing she loves most with everyone watching, a chance to show the town that she's not—and never has been—a "no-good Woodson girl," like her mother. But will the competition prove too steep? And will Mags be able to retain her friendship with George as they go head-to-head in tryouts? Mags will have to learn that following her dreams may mean changing her life forever.

Magnolia's tired of everyone in their small town judging her and her sister because of their mother's actions. They didn't have anything to do with the death of the mayor's daughter, but no matter how much Magnolia wants to start over and move somewhere where no one knows the Woodson family, she's constantly reminded that they're stuck. So when Magnolia learns about a televised dance competition she begins to hope and dream again. She loves dancing, and being able to dance in front of thousands of people is a dream come true, and not to mention the prize money, which would give Magnolia and her sister a fresh start. But the competition is much more challenging than Magnolia expected and the once in a lifetime opportunity puts a strain on Magnolia's friendship with George, her best friend. Will she be able to persevere and prove everyone wrong or will she finally realize that winning the competition isn't everything?

Jill MacKenzie's writing drew me in from the first page, because her writing's so raw and beautiful. For example, "My hands reach up to move stars, rearrange space." Her words are poetic but I never once thought they were too flowery or distracting. I also enjoyed the plot of the novel. I always love reading about dance, and I definitely give every author props for writing about it because it's difficult to consistently describe dance in a way that a non-dancer, such as me, will be able to understand. I thought the author did a great job with this. I was never confused, and I was genuinely interested in Magnolia's dancing as well as the dance competition. I also appreciated that the author also centered the story around difficult topics—drugs and death. Although Magnolia and her sister had nothing to do with the death of the mayor's daughter (their mother did), I thought it was realistic that there were still repercussions for Magnolia. On a daily basis she had to deal with gossip and mean looks, and I thought she handled herself very well. It was also interesting seeing Magnolia grow throughout the novel and come to realizations about herself as well as about her family. But at the same time, it was a little frustrating that Magnolia constantly let others' opinions get to her. I would have liked her to be slightly stronger in that regard, but I completely understand why she was the way she was because of her past. Although I enjoyed many aspects of this novel, my favorite part was probably the friendship between Magnolia and George. There was so much love and encouragement between them and I smiled whenever they were together.

Overall, I would recommend Spin the Sky to anyone looking for a young adult novel featuring dance.


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