Girl Through Glass
by Sari Wilson
I can’t remember where I heard of Girl Through Glass or why I put it on my Goodreads list, but when I saw it on the “new books” shelf at work I scooped it up. From the synopsis, it looked so interesting, but I felt meh about it. I didn’t dislike it, but I also didn’t love it. I thought it was beautifully written, but the plot was depressing for most of the book and it was a little strange. I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to feel about the events throughout Mira’s life, but I found myself consistently feeling bad for her, or a little confused, until I got to the end. However, I was rooting for Mira the whole time and I loved all the ballet terms/culture vividly portrayed throughout the story.
It’s late 1970’s New York City and Mira is a gifted ballerina with aspirations of dancing professionally. Her home life is challenging because her parents are separating and no one is there for her consistently. One day she notices a man watching her during one of her ballet classes and she decides to follow him when he leaves, which begins an unconventional relationship that lasts three years. Mira tells her story from the present where she is a dance history professor, with flashbacks of her past from when she was 11-14. Spoilers: Mira and Maurice (who is about 30 years her senior) have a relationship where she dances for him and he buys her things and takes care of her. Emotions build though and Mira wants more from him. One day it climaxes in anger and Maurice rapes her, leaving her pregnant. Mira’s dance career, which was about to take off as she is one of the infamous Mr. B’s girls, is ruined and she leaves New York for California where she lives with her mom and has the baby. She immediately gives him up for adoption and goes to school, later getting a job as professor/researcher. In the present, Mira is struggling to be successful and it isn’t until she gets a letter from Maurice that she delves into her past to make sense of the present. She leaves work to find Maurice, but she is too late. She learns that he has passed away and that the lawyer in charge of his estate (and the man who sent Maurice’s letter) is also her and Maurice’s son. After confronting her past, Mira is able to move forward. She starts a relationship with her son, focuses and writes a compelling, successful research paper, and becomes a popular speaker. It is a beautiful ending to a rather dark, somber story.
Mira muses, “Maybe Maurice was wrong. Beauty is not about suffering. It is about being fulfilled, drinking in as much as one can; it is about life, not death. . . . A life –one life. What will I do with the rest of it? I’ve squandered much of it by waiting, by giving in to my own fear of myself and what I could have done. But did not do. I hear my own notes from the modernism lecture in my head: the grotesque, ugly, brutal, and the strong, Nijinsky wielded like a weapon. Is it too late for me? Not to destroy the past, but to open up through thickets of inertia, new landscapes of future possibility. I insisted Sioban that she can be a scientist and a dancer. What possibilities are there for myself that I have not allowed? Can I become a mother this late in the game? What ways are there of moving beyond anger and sadness that I have yet to discover? Can I stop sabotaging my own ambition?” I love how she contemplates her life and decides to move forward. Mira really grows throughout the book and I absolutely love when characters do that.
Summing it up: while I did not love this book and though a lot of it was a little weird, there was a lot I did like/respect. I wouldn’t rave about it and recommend it, but I wouldn’t discourage you from picking it up!
All the best, Abbey