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He’s an idiot, my brother, I hate him. He’s got good taste in music, though. He always listens to it on his headphones when I’m around so’s I can’t hear it. Like he owns the air or something. He’d wrap the music up and stick it up his arse if he could.
I don’t get much time on my own lately except first thing in the morning before school when me dad and Tony are out
on the picket line. It was better when they were working. I could get back from school and I’d have hours to listen to anything I wanted. Nan likes the music too. Dad thinks it’s modern rubbish, but she’s too old to care about that sort of thing. She never tells on me. She probably can’t remember long enough to know what we were doing, anyhow. As soon as Dad and Tony are out the house, I put the music on while I
do breakfast. She can’t keep her feet still. I can hear her singing along while she’s still in bed. Sometimes she gets up and we jiggle around the room together. She does these poses with her arms in the air, trying to balance on one leg and spin round like a ballet dancer – except she’s getting on for eighty and can’t walk all that well these days, let alone dance.

About the book

Billy's mother is dead, and his father and brother are fiercely involved in a bitter miners' strike that has split the local community.

Billy's father wants his son to learn boxing, like he did, and his father before him. But Billy is fascinated by the grace and magic of ballet and is determined to dance his way to a different future.

Telling the story from the differing viewpoints, Melvin Burgess has captured the spirit of the original film screenplay while demonstrating the skill he showed in his award-winning novel, Junk.

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Press reviews

“... the novel stands alone as a compelling and moving story.”


“A writer of the highest quality with exceptional powers of insight.”


“ ... will make reading as non-wimpish as Billy made ballet ... Full marks to Melvin Burgess.”


Author notes

'I loved the film so much, I jumped at the chance to write the book. I wanted to do something that told the same story, from different angles, but which remained true to the film. I've tried to show what each character is thinking and feeling - which is of course something a film can't do in quite the same way.'


World Rights


Audio UK, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latin America, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain (Spanish and Catalan), Turkey, UK ed. edition, USA