I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Wind At My Back by Misty Copeland
Published by Grand Central Publishing on November 15, 2022
From celebrated ballerina and New York Times bestselling author Misty Copeland, a heartfelt memoir about her friendship with trailblazer Raven Wilkinson which captures the importance of mentorship, shared history, and honoring the past to ensure a stronger future.
Misty Copeland made history as the first African-American principal ballerina at the American Ballet Theatre. Her talent, passion, and perseverance enabled her to make strides no one had accomplished before. But as she will tell you, achievement never happens in a void. Behind her, supporting her rise was her mentor Raven Wilkinson. Raven had been virtually alone in her quest to breach the all-white ballet world when she fought to be taken seriously as a Black ballerina in the 1950s and 60s. A trailblazer in the world of ballet decades before Misty’s time, Raven faced overt and casual racism, hostile crowds, and death threats for having the audacity to dance ballet.
The Wind at My Back tells the story of two unapologetically Black ballerinas, their friendship, and how they changed each other—and the dance world—forever. Misty Copeland shares her own struggles with racism and exclusion in her pursuit of this dream career and honors the women like Raven who paved the way for her but whose contributions have gone unheralded. She celebrates the connection she made with her mentor, the only teacher who could truly understand the obstacles she faced, beyond the technical or artistic demands.
A beautiful and wise memoir of intergenerational friendship and the impressive journeys of two remarkable women, The Wind at My Back captures the importance of mentorship, of shared history, and of respecting the past to ensure a stronger future.
I was a ballerina once upon a time, and I read every single ballet memoir I could find in my local library. I have long loved Misty Copeland, and I loved her other books. It was absolutely a no-brainer for me to grab this one. I think this is an excellent read, especially for anyone interested in the history of ballet in America, and being Black while dancing.
The full title of this book is The Wind At My Back: Resilience, Grace, and Other Gifts From My Mentor, Raven Wilkinson…and it is very much a love letter to Misty Copelands mentor, Raven Wilkinson. This book tackles racism, the current environment, being Black in ballet, and Misty’s struggles as a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre. However the focus of this book is more on the mentor/mentee relationship between Misty and Raven as Raven guided Misty, and showed her that her perseverance would indeed reap reward.
The friendship that developed between the two women was lovely and worth delving into. This book leaves me wistful for my days in ballet, and Misty Copeland will always be one of my favorite dancers. This book only strengthens my respect and admiration of her. Everything she went through, everything she struggled against, she is a true icon, and reading about her mentor was a treat.
I don’t often read memoirs, but this one was definitely worth the read. You don’t have to be a fan of ballet, or of Misty Copeland to enjoy this book.
***Advanced Reader Copy courtesy of the publisher Grand Central via Netgalley