Off Balance, by Terez Mertes Rose, is a refreshing and gritty story about friendships, dreams, and life.
Alice walked away from her ballet career after an injury forced her off the stage years ago. Lana is a young and naïve dancer who has recently moved to California in pursuit of her dream. Alice’s boss asks her to look out for Lana not knowing that Lana symbolizes everything that Alice has lost. The pain that she’s buried bubbles to the surface as does Lana’s insecurities and family troubles. Can the two women forge a relationship to help the other heal?
Off Balance centers around two ballet dancers at different stages in their lives. While ballet is at the heart of the story, this novel isn’t just about ballet. It offers so much more. Almost everyone has had a dream. Sometimes they come true with hard work and dedication. Sometimes they are cut short. This book explores the human side and all the implications of pursuing one’s dreams and letting go. While the book will naturally appeal to those in the dance world, it also has the ability to hook people from all walks of life. It focuses on the individuals in an engaging and hypnotic way. Just as audience members can’t take their eyes off dancers on stage, readers will have a hard time setting aside this novel until the final page.
The reason why this story works on so many levels is the author’s ability to create characters that ring true. Not everyone is likable, cheerful, and perfect all of the time. Terez Mertes Rose delves deep into her characters’ back story to show how they really are: human and flawed. While many may associate perfection with dancers, the story exposes the insecurities, petty jealousies, rivalries, and even the blisters. It gives a behind the scenes look into a profession most haven’t experienced, but it never wavers too far into the unknown, making all readers feel welcome. This ability to intrigue readers who are outside the dance world is a wonderful feat. Many will be able to relate to what Lana and Alice are dealing with on some level because the focus is on the characters, not the dance world. And it’s not solely their careers that are throwing them off balance. Their families and personal relationships are significant obstacles. Relationships on any level are never easy and many can relate.
While her characters are off balance, Terez Mertes Rose has balanced her novel perfectly. It’s well-written and constructed brilliantly to suck the readers into Alice’s and Lana’s lives making the reader more than a witness to their trials and tribulations. The reader starts to care for the characters and cheers for them. As the story progresses, both women grow and mature, which is essential for a successful novel that centers on the characters to keep a reader engaged.
This is the author’s first novel and it’s a fantastic start to what promises to be an intriguing series. Off Balance will leave readers wanting more.