Summer Reading: 'Off Balance' by Terez Mertes Rose

June 22, 2015, 10:42 AM · Who doesn't need a little summer reading?

Terez Mertes RoseAnd all the better, if the book is written by one of our long-time V.com members, Terez Mertes (Rose). Mertes is a former professional dancer who came to us here at Violinist.com when she began playing the violin 10 years ago, as an adult. Her new book, called Off Balance (Ballet Theatre Chronicles Book 1), takes place in the world of ballet, and its protagonist (like Terez) is an avid classical music fan, which is a thread that runs strong through the story.

I read the book mostly because Terez is my friend and writes very good blogs, but man, this is a page-turner! I was up until 1 p.m. several nights because I just couldn't put it down.

off balanceThe pursuit of music at a high level is a lot like the pursuit of dance: that heady combination of support, back-stabbing, inspiration and jealousy, all in the service of something that aims for transcendence. Terez's story centers on two dancers, one post-career and one just on the cusp of "making it." These characters are interesting and paradoxical; good people who occasionally still act on bad impulse. Their stories begin separately, illustrating two compelling sides of isolation. On one hand is an administrator, Alice, whose dancing career was forever sidelined by injury, still unable to attend a performance without overwhelming emotion and even tears. On the other is a new dancer to the company, Lana, so talented that the other dancers avoid her, so broke she can barely afford life in her new town, San Francisco. And she's a long way from Kansas, where her family lives and constantly tugs at her feelings of family obligation.

As their stories merge, so do they both emerge from their isolation. They each face some tough demons, both internal and external, and the end is quite satisfying. Five stars! Go read it (for a time, I think you can actually get it free on Kindle) and then help our friend by giving her 5 stars on Amazon and Goodreads (if you like it, of course!)

Now, does anyone have any other books for my summer reading?

Replies

June 22, 2015 at 05:41 PM · Aww, Laurie, how wonderful to read! Thank you! I loved the way you described the story, too. You do have a way with words.

While the price has gone back to $3.99 over at Amazon (print copy available there, as well, for $10.99), I don't want cost to be a reason any V.commer can't read the book. Contact me at The Classical Girl (link is on my bio here) and we'll work together on a way to get you a copy. Or wait - I guess you can contact me through V.com, too.

By the way, the story includes a violinist. Some of you other old timers might remember that I showed up here at Violinist.com, and indeed, started taking violin lessons, as research for my novel #2. This violinist was one of the 3 narrators. That novel never flew (my agent hated the story) but as a consolation to myself (I reluctantly concurred that novel #2 was too commercial and thriller-esque and not what I was best at) I placed the violinist in OFF BALANCE as a secondary character. Man, did I love writing those scenes she was in!

Thank you again, Laurie, for this lovely review. And fellow V.commies, I hope you'll consider giving the story a read.

June 22, 2015 at 06:21 PM · How could I forget about the character who is a violinist? I was wrapped up in the rest of it! They were all really fun characters. :)

June 22, 2015 at 08:58 PM · A friend of mine wrote this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Watches-Have-Known-Julie-Campisi/dp/1496155068

He published it a few months ago. Watches share something with violins: they are small, precisely made, and tell stories while also keeping extraordinary secrets.

June 23, 2015 at 11:34 AM · I also enjoyed "Off Balance". The snickers scene!

This Old Timer (cough) also had the pleasure of reading Novel #2. I'd cough up for that one too, if you decide to sell it.

Nice work (smiley!)

June 23, 2015 at 02:11 PM · Anne H - I so appreciated your editing eye during my final tune-up of novel #2. Remember when you caught my typo, as Montserrat was preparing for the big Queen Elisabeth-style violin competition, and I'd accidentally wrote "preparing for the bit competition?" Um, hardly a bit competition.

Didn't you like Montserrat's happy ending in OFF BALANCE, after I'd put her through the wringer in the previous book? It made me smile.

Thank you for reading my "baby"! And commenting here. Oh, and hi! ((Waves))

June 23, 2015 at 10:16 PM · I hadn't remembered the bit typo. Still funny though. I remember the War Against Too Many ; and the chocolate scene. Of course.

Monstserrat needs her own book. :-)

June 23, 2015 at 10:30 PM · Laurie, as for summer reading suggestions, I read "Warmth of Other Suns" by Isabel Wilkerson this year, and I've been pestering, nagging, and brow-beating all the readers I know to give it a try. The prose is fabulous, the story is wrenching, moving, and one of the finest non-fics I've read in years.

Also this year, I stumbled across "The Dream Life of Sukhanov" by Olga Grushin, and was most impressed. An excellent novel, although her next one, "The Line" was a bit weaker.

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