Huge thanks to TBR and Beyond Tours, as well as the author and publisher for giving me a copy of “The Other Side of Perfect” in exchange for a honest review! You can click on the banner below to go to the full schedule and explore other’s posts!
About the Book
Title: The Other Side of Perfect
Author: Mariko Turk
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: May 11th, 2021
Content Warnings: Protagonist is dealing with a lot of anger and some depression, various experiences of racism.
Final Rating: 4 Stars
Alina Keeler was destined to dance, but one terrifying fall shatters her leg–and her dreams of a professional ballet career along with it.
After a summer healing (translation: eating vast amounts of Cool Ranch Doritos and binging ballet videos on YouTube), she is forced to trade her pre-professional dance classes for normal high school, where she reluctantly joins the school musical. However, rehearsals offer more than she expected–namely Jude, her annoyingly attractive cast mate she just might be falling for.
But to move forward, Alina must make peace with her past and face the racism she had grown to accept in the dance industry. She wonders what it means to yearn for ballet–something so beautiful, yet so broken. And as broken as she feels, can she ever open her heart to someone else?
Touching, romantic, and peppered with humor, this debut novel explores the tenuousness of perfectionism, the possibilities of change, and the importance of raising your voice.
The Other Side of Perfect was a nuanced, raw, and honest look at a teenager’s life after her passion was ripped away from her.
And I loved it.
I was so impressed. This surpassed all my expectations. The story, the romance, the depth of Alina, were so amazing. I’m surprised this is the author’s first book.
The protagonist, Alina, was so incredibly realistic. Dance was her life. And she couldn’t do it anymore. So it makes sense that she’s angry, and sad and feels alone. Who wouldn’t? I loved how she was shown as not the nicest person. She can be a jerk sometimes, she can be rude, yet I still rooted for her the entire time. Mariko Turk portrays her feelings so perfectly so you understand her. She was real in a way that not many protagonists are. I can’t say I completely related to her, but a lot of people can, and I admire that the author did that.
Jude was adorable. He was Alina’s love interest, and he was so freaking cute. He was so sweet and understanding of Alina and she liked him but she didn’t like him and he liked her and AGH. I loved his loving of trampolines, green tea, baths, mysteries and knitting. He knits, everyone. How can you not love him?
I also loved Ethan and Margot. Ethan was so charming, and points to the author about the LGBTQ+ representation. And Margot was a badass, don’t argue with me.
I loved how the author explored competitive and talented people of color in a racist community. The author is up to the task when it comes to these issues. I liked the way Alina slowly realized that her dance teacher was stereotypical and racist when it came to ballet. Her eyes had been covered her entire life, and she was beginning to realize how serious it all really is.
I really enjoyed Alina’s budding friendship with Diya, a fellow cast member. Despite Jude, Ethan, and Margot hating Diya because she went to a singing competition instead of going to the dance with Jude (when they were dating), Alina is sympathetic towards Diya. You know why? Because Alina realizes that she would have done the same thing if it came to dance or a relationship. And I found that to be really interesting.
The romance between Jude and Alina was so good. I loved the way they met, and Alina holding up the finger to him, just because she was angry and he looked too happy.
I mean, don’t you love this romance?
All jokes aside, though, the romance was so sweet. Jude was so understanding of Alina, and he was so supportive, and such a great friend to Margot and Ethan. I loved their chemistry, and how they became friends despite Alina holding up the finger. I mean, how much better can this get?
The answer, is better. I don’t usually care about things like writing style, and this wasn’t super breathtaking or anything, but I really enjoyed it. The writing sounded like it was coming from a teenager, but it wasn’t juvenile or anything, which happens a lot in YA contemporary books. I loved the way the writing style helped portray the mood of the book and I liked how it showed Alina in a honest light. She wasn’t perfect. Just like anyone.
Overall, this was a great book. I’m looking forward to reading more of Mariko Turk.
Scars and steel don’t decide if you’re a dancer or not.
About the Author
Mariko Turk grew up in Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA in creative writing. She received her PhD in English from the University of Florida, with a concentration in children’s literature. Currently, she works as a Writing Center consultant at the University of Colorado Boulder.
She lives in Colorado with her husband and baby daughter, where she enjoys tea, walks, and stories of all kinds.