Reading level: Ages 11 and up
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing (February 2006)
Summary: Rachel Deering has her eyes on her toes, in becoming a world-class ballerina. As a 14-year-old, she is already one of the best dancers in the country. Just as she prepares for an audition for an opening with a prestigious dance troupe, Rachel starts having some very disturbing symptoms. After collapsing at school, she has many tests and her doctor tells her the news: She has diabetes. Now her world consists of blood tests, insulin shots, a controlled diet, and constant fear that she will have a reaction and end up unable to dance, or worse.
My Review: Last Dance by Lurlene McDaniel is a short, sweet and to the point kind of story. It tells the tale of Rachel, a 14 year old ballerina and her learning to live with diabetes while still achieving her dream of becoming a professional dancer. I found many aspects of this story to be true which made it more enjoyable to read. Madame Pershoff, Rachel’s ballet instructor came across so real to me, and at times even reminded me of my own ballet teacher. Shawn McLaughlin was by far one of my favorite characters in this entire story. He’s your average sweet, kind, and goofy kind of guy. He too has diabetes and becomes a major part of Rachel’s life. At first Rachel is reluctant to befriend Shawn and tries to pretend that she is diabetes free. She wonders why life is so unfair and if she’s ever going to become a ballerina. But as time goes on, will Rachel’s perspective change?
This story is incredibly heartwarming. The cute message “Don’t let anything interfere with your dreams” seems to stand out and practically jump off the pages. I like it. I can tell this story’s message will stay with me for awhile.
There’s a sense of competition between Rachel and another ballet dancer, Melanie, especially with the regional audition for the New York City Ballet Company coming up. Will Rachel make it? Or will her diabetes get in the way of her lifelong dream? Read this inspiring adventure to find out!
Rating: I really liked it.
Favorite excerpt: ""I'm Shawn McLaughlin. Dr. Malar sent me."
He eased into the room and pulled up a chair next to her bed. "He told me you were pretty. He's right."
Rachel blushed and looked away from his steady gaze. “What do you want?”
“Just thought I’d like to meet you. Thought you might like to meet someone who lives with diabetes everyday.”
“You have it, too?” She examined him openly. He seemed so . . .well. So healthy.
“Sure. Since I was three. I’m fourteen now. That’s eleven years.”
“Yep. And I hate having it as much as you do. But I’ve learned to live with it . . . around it . . . in spite of it,” he said as he grinned broadly at her.
His smile was infectious. She smiled back."
Cover comment: The cover shows Rachel's pointe shoes and a rose. It's tinted a light pink. It's pretty.
Book source: Gift.