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Like generations of little girls, Lauren Kessler fell in love with ballet the first time she saw The Nutcracker, and from that day, at age five, she dreamed of becoming a ballerina. But when she was twelve, her very famous ballet instructor crushed those dreams along with her youthful self-assurance and she stepped away from the barre.
Fast forward four decades. Lauren suddenly, powerfully, itchingly restless at midlife embarks on a Transcontinental Nutcracker Binge Tour,” where attending a string of performances in Chicago, New York, Boston, and San Francisco reignites her love affair with the ballet and fuels her girlhood dream.
What ensues is not only a story about The Nutcracker itself, but also an inside look at the seemingly romantic but oh-so-gritty world of ballet, about all that happens away from the audience's eye that precedes the magic on stage. It is a tale told from the perspective of someone who not only loves it, but is also seeking to live it. Lauren's quest to dance The Nutcracker with the Eugene Ballet Company tackles the big issues: fear, angst, risk, resilience, the refusal to settle in” to midlife, the refusal to become yet another Invisible Woman. It is also a very funny, very real look at what it's like to push yourself further than you ever thought you could go and what happens when you get there.
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Lauren Kessler is an award-winning author and immersion reporter. She is the author of seven nonfiction books, including Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-aging, as well as My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, a Daughter, a Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence. Her journalism has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O, the Oprah Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Prevention, and Salon. She also directs the graduate program in narrative journalism at the University of Oregon.
Publishers Weekly, 10/26/15
[Kessler] inspires readers as she realizes that you can't feel the thrill unless you take the risk.'”
[Kessler's] book is eloquent, funny and so inspiring that readers might want to attempt the impossible' too.”
Eugene Weekly, 11/19/15
With a funny and warm writing style, Kessler describes a history of doubts, from the poking comments of her early dance teachers to her powerful drive to succeed in Eugene Ballet Company's performances by any means necessary.”
Kirkus Reviews, 10/15/15
Kessler has a wonderfully self-conscious mettle as well, not to mention a deft hand with the evocative expression of her inner feelings. She provides a useful vest-pocket history of ballet, and The Nutcracker in particular, and she ably captures the abundant physical punishment An amusingly shrewd memoir of following a lifelong dream.”
Library Journal, 12/4/15
This delightful story of one woman's personal quest will be enjoyed by anyone who thinks age is just a number, but Nutcracker fans will find it especially appealing.”
PBS's Next Avenue, 12/8/15
Kessler brings the reader along on a 250-page journey that's brutally challenging, hilariously funny and incontestably inspiring as she tries to morph from fit-but-not-ballet-fit mother and writer to lithe and limber Aunt Rose.”
Washington Post, 12/11/2015
Breezy Inspiring Kessler's experience will resonate with lots of readers Self-reflective and funny, Kessler has an infectious enthusiasm, and her struggle to balance family, work and her time on social media will be amusingly familiar to many.”
Oregon ArtsWatch, 12/10/15
"[An] adventurous immersion into the subculture of ballet, this is a great, inspirational story for someone who is looking for a push to take that leap and do that thing they have been putting off for a really long time. If Kessler can do it, you can do it.”
Kessler's book is well structured, generates suspense and culminates with amusing stories of performance mishaps and the rigors of touring.”
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