Tour de Force
A book review for parents
This romance novel written by Elizabeth White and published by Zondervan is for teens 17 and up. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
Gillian Kincade is a talented ballet dancer with a passionate love for God. After she replaces an injured colleague, her career takes off. Then she meets Jacob Ferrar, the handsome and charming artistic director of the Birmingham Ballet Theatre in Alabama. Jacob creates his own ballet inspired by the biblical story of a woman named Mary who used her expensive perfume on Jesus' feet. As their friendship grows, Gillian is delighted to find that Jacob shares her faith in Christ, but she begins to sense that there is a darker side to his story. Then, a dancing accident threatens Gillian's career. As she recovers, Jacob receives the offer of a lifetime: a contract with choreographer Maurice Poiroux and Ballet New York to produce his ballet. There is a catch, however: The lead role, originally reserved for Gillian, is to go to Iliana Poiroux, Jacob's former lover. After Jacob reveals his past to Gillian, they pray for a miracle. Along the way, their love deepens for God and each other. Jacob decides not to sign the contract for his ballet, and in the epilogue, he and Gillian become engaged.
Both Gillian and Jacob place God at the center of their lives. Gillian desires to use her talents to express God's love to others. As a dancer in New York, Jacob was once involved in a damaging sexual relationship with Iliana. Upon leaving for Alabama, Jacob's life was transformed by the forgiveness and grace of God. Thus, Jacob emphasizes the importance of salvation by faith. Gillian and Jacob are both avid churchgoers and surround themselves with a network of Christian believers. As Christian dancers in a secular industry, both Jacob and Gillian struggle to stand up for the truth and show God's love without condemnation. For instance, Gillian consistently reaches out in love to her homosexual friend, Dmitri, but she does not condone his lifestyle. Gillian and Jacob advocate the sanctity of marriage and sexual purity.
Gillian maintains a close relationship with her parents and consistently turns to them for advice. Jacob, after the death of his only sister, Lily, graciously takes his 6-year-old nephew, Graham, into his care. Jacob is a loving father figure, raising Graham using biblical principles. Jacob also demonstrates godly discipline both with Graham and with the young dancers in his company. In one instance, Graham is placed under the watch of Yolanda Needham, the costume mistress, while Jacob rehearses with his dancers. When Graham's mischievous behavior frustrates Yolanda, Jacob tells him what he did wrong and requires Graham to apologize. At another point, Jacob suspends an out-of-control girl so she loses her role in "The Nutcracker," even though her father is one of the board members in charge of approving Jacob's new ballet.
Other Belief Systems
In a moment of grief, Victoria, who is an unbeliever, cries out by taking God's name in vain; later, that cry turns into a plea for His help.
Gillian and Jacob share a passionate kiss. Gillian's friend Dmitri is a homosexual, but he expresses a keen interest in Gillian's faith and accompanies her to church a few times. Gillian's roommate, Victoria, has a sexual relationship with her boyfriend, Nicholas. She becomes pregnant but decides to abort the baby.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- What struggles does Gillian face as a Christian ballet dancer in New York City?
How does she incorporate her faith into her career?
Does she make compromises?
How do Victoria and Dmitri react to her convictions?
As a student, how do you incorporate your faith?
Where have you compromised?
Where have you stood for Jesus?
How have others reacted to your convictions?
- When confronted by Victoria, what does Gillian say about God's design for sex?
What does Victoria believe is the purpose of sex?
What does God's Word say about sex?
Why does God reserve sex for marriage?
- How is Gillian able to make friends with Dmitri without condoning his sexual behavior?
Because they are friends, where does Dmitri go with Gillian?
What does God's Word teach about homosexuality?
What does God's Word teach about loving your neighbor?
How can you reach out to others without saying that their behavior is OK?
- How did Jacob become a father to Graham?
What are the most important things that fathers do?
Did Jacob do those things?
Does your father do those things?
How did God use Jacob to reflect His heart as a Father to Graham?
Who does God use to reflect His heart as a Father to you?
- What does Victoria consider before she decides to have an abortion?
How does Victoria's decision to have an abortion affect her?
How does her decision affect Nicholas and Gillian?
How does God bring healing and forgiveness to Victoria?
- What does Jacob decide when his ballet is accepted in New York? Why?
What event in his past caused him to choose this path?
Do you agree with his decision?
How did he bring honor to God in this situation?
Tour de Force deals with the topic of abortion. In the novel, it is revealed that several dancers are smokers, and there is one scene in which Dmitri is drunk.
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.