From war-torn Sierra Leone to the US, to dancing for the Dutch National Ballet, this is a heartwrenching, life-affirming true story of a young girl orphaned by war and saved by ballet.
Growing up in war-torn Sierra Leone, Michaela DePrince witnesses atrocities that no child ever should. Her father is killed by rebels and her mother dies of famine. Sent to an orphanage, Michaela is mistreated and she sees the brutal murder of her favourite teachers.
But there is hope: the Harmattan wind blows a magazine through the orphanage gates. Michaela picks it up and sees a beautiful image of a young woman dancing. One day, she thinks, I want to be this happy.
And then Michaela and her best friend are adopted by an American couple and Michaela can take the dance lessons she's dreamed of since finding her picture.
Life in the States isn't without difficulties. Unfortunately, tragedy can find its way to Michaela in America, too, and her past can feel like it's haunting her. The world of ballet is a racist one, and Michaela has to fight for a place amongst the ballet elite, hearing the words "America's not ready for a black girl ballerina".
Today, Michaela is an international ballet star, dancing for The Dutch National Ballet at the age of 19.
A heart-breaking, inspiring autobiography by a teenager who shows us that, beyond everything, there is always hope for a better future.
About the Author
Michaela DePrince was born in 1995 in Sierra Leone. After the deaths of her parents, she moved to an orphanage from which she was adopted and taken to the US in 1999.
Elaine DePrince, her new mother, noticed Michaela's obsession with ballet and allowed her to begin lessons. Michaela went on to study on a scholarship at the Rock School for Dance Education and The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at The American Ballet Theatre, and is now a professional ballerina, who danced principal with The Dance Theatre of Harlem, in guest principal roles in South Africa and The Netherlands, and is now just starting with The Dutch National Ballet.
Michaela featured in the documentary First Position. Speaking out about her experiences, she is recognised throughout the world as an inspirational woman: she featured in Huffington Post's Most Amazing Young People of the Year and Newsweek's 125 Women of Impact. She has spoken at the United Nations for children affected by war and the Women in the World conference.