“Sometimes you want something so badly you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get it.”
After surviving brutal bullying and hazing, both Cassie Lucas and Gigi Stewart are back at the American Ballet Conservatory for their final year, struggling to prove they still have what it takes after healing from their injuries. Unable to prove that she wasn’t the one who pushed Gigi in front of a taxi, Bette Abney is still suspended, and neither her former best friend, Eleanor, nor her ex-boyfriend Alec, are speaking to her. After finally landing a breakout role in Giselle, June Kim is poised for her best year yet, determined to land one of the American Ballet Company’s coveted apprenticeships. But her falling weight and unusual eating habits are bringing her under increased scrutiny, straining her relationship with her mother, and her boyfriend Jayhe. Now the upperclassman have a choice: focus on their dreams, or pursue revenge.
Gigi Stewart, for one, has set her heart on revenge. After all, she could have died. And with the return of Cassie Lucas, the last girl who was terribly injured by Bette’s machinations, she has an unexpected ally. In Tiny Pretty Things, Cassie was the spectre that hung over Gigi’s hazing, spoken of in horrified whispers. In Shiny Broken Pieces, she finally comes fully on-stage, no longer a talismanic victim, but a new bitter, angry rival, hungry for revenge and determined to prove herself. Though she rarely carries the POV, her presence eggs Gigi on. Even as the Conservatory tries to start fresh, new pranks and anonymous bullying pile fuel on the flames. And since the incidents never take place in the POV of the perpetrator, there is and added element of mystery and suspense.
In many ways, Shiny Broken Pieces is a book about role reversals. Once the sunny, laid-back new girl from California, Gigi has been embittered by her experiences. Meanwhile, Bette, always used to being a star and the darling of the Conservatory, is on the outs, suspended from school indefinitely. She is guilty of a lot, but determined to prove that whatever her past, she was not responsible for Gigi’s near-death experience. Meanwhile, June has gained bigger roles and more attention, but it hasn’t fixed her eating disorder, or her non-relationship with her father, or helped her decide between pursuing a ballet career and going to college with Jayhe. Her role at the Conservatory may have changed, but she is still the same person, with a dark secret or two weighing on her conscience. Together the three girls form a horrifying and yet strangely sympathetic cast.
Shiny Broken Pieces is full of blackmail, drama, and deep, dark, twisty secrets. The competition is fierce, and with only two apprenticeships on offer, it is about to go to a whole new level. In this respect, it is very much of a piece with Tiny Pretty Things, but with even higher stakes. Lives and careers are on the line.