Delacorte Books for Young Readers
September 8, 2009
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Sylvie has dedicated her life to ballet and it paid off, too. At seventeen she was the youngest ever principal ballerina for her dance company until a tragic accident left her leg and her spirit crushed. Now, with her mother remarried to a psychiatrist Sylvie can't stand and getting caught drunk at the reception, she's being sent off to her father's extended family in Alabama. The family she only ever saw at her father's funeral.
Sylvie not only doesn't know anything about these family members, has some preconceived notions about Alabama, but hates that her stepfather seems to be sending her for a summer of 'rehab' so she's not going into things with a good attitude.
Once she gets there, there's the town's golden boy Shawn, the British boy Rhys staying at her father's cousin's home (it's being made into an inn) while researching the area, neither of which she can stop thinking about. Add in some supernatural sights that have Sylvie wondering if she's losing her mind as well as her dance career with the Southern heat and history and it's a great mix of plot, the supernatural, family/coming of age dynamics and some really well developed characters.
Splendor Falls definitely made me want to visit this made up old town with all its history, to see it for myself--it felt really real. And I loved that Sylvie had the background as a dancer, it wasn't just that she'd been this magnificent ballerina and now she wasn't and ooh she's in a bad mood, it actually really factored into things (from her strength for walking, to what she felt about eating some things, to her discipline in general, etc); I liked that she was so well thought out and not a cookie cutter teen girl.
The mixture of the past and the past family relationships along with the family dynamics in the present was really interesting too. Not only did it show how we always have things within our families to deal with that aren't unique to the now but it brought everything together.
Without saying too much, I thought the supernatural elements that were used in this book were really good and fit well with the story. They probably weren't the first time they were used (though some, I believe were), but tied all together, they were really unique and made for a fantastic story. Things were also given much more depth and meaning--history and explanation (that worked) than in a lot of books.
I've wanted to read Rosemary Clement-Moore's Maggie Quinn series for a while (the two libraries by me have the first book overdue by a year & two, respectively so I've just sort of let it go) but now I really want to give them a shot..