Book Reviews

When it All Syncs Up by Maya Ameyaw: Blog Tour & Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

When It All Syncs Up by Maya Ameyaw

Published June 6th, 2023 by Annick Press

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A Black teen dancer with dreams of landing a spot in a prestigious ballet company must learn to dance on her own terms in this explosive debut about the healing power of art and friendship, perfect for fans of Heartstopper and Tiny Pretty Things.

Ballet is Aisha’s life. So when she’s denied yet another lead at her elite academy because she doesn’t “look” the part, she knows something has to change–the constant discrimination is harming her mental health. Switching to her best friend Neil’s art school seems like the perfect plan at first. But she soon discovers racism and bullying are entrenched in the ballet program here, too, and there’s a new, troubling distance between her and Neil. And as past traumas surface, pressure from friends and family, a new romance, and questions about her dance career threaten to overwhelm her. There’s no choreography to follow–for high school or for healing. Aisha will have to find the strength within herself–and place her trust in others–to make her next move.

Click for Content Warnings:

Brief mention of physical and sexual abuse, on page verbal abuse, racism, colorism, depictions of an eating disorder, body dysmorphia, disassociation/depersonalization, depression and alcohol dependency

Thank you to TBR and Beyond Tours and the publisher, Annick Press, for sending me an ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

As a former pre-professional ballet dancer, I was thrilled – and a little hesitant – to jump back into that world explored in When It All Sync Up by Maya Ameyaw. Aisha’s story starts intensely and immediately reels you in. I was instantly brought back to being 17 and that ferocity I felt about ensuring dance was my future – and my utter fear it might not be.

While I cannot relate entirely to Aisha’s story (I’m white and thus never had to experience first-hand the impacts of the strong colorism undercurrents in the traditional ballet world), it wasn’t hard to empathize with her. I have such a hate-love relationship with dance (much like Aisha). Dance can be very releasing, but it can also be very constricting. It’s a unique kind of vulnerability when your art form is your literal body. It’s impossible to separate yourself from art – and the critiques.

And the rules of traditional dance are very rigid. So if you don’t physically fit that mold, it can be a difficult battle.

While my relationship with dance has changed as I’ve gotten older, it still holds a very dear, bittersweet, place in my heart. I really enjoyed revisiting both the joy and pain through Aisha’s journey of growth. When It All Syncs Up doesn’t shy away from that duality, and its raw honesty is powerfully moving. I felt a real connection with Aisha, Neil, and Ollie. They felt like real people I could have known, like long-lost friends I want to check in on. I genuinely wish them all the best.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough! ❤️

About the Author

Maya Ameyaw worked as a bookseller in college and currently works as a community arts writing instructor. Her contemporary debut WHEN IT ALL SYNCS UP has been awarded grants by the Toronto Arts Council, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts.

A deleted excerpt of her upcoming novel is included in the anthology BRILLIANCE IS THE CLOTHING I WEAR, which was featured in Quill and Quire literary magazine.

In her free time, Maya enjoys hanging out with her adorable dwarf rabbit and devouring as many books as possible. She also loves exploring all the bookstores that Toronto has to offer.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

~ Check out the rest of the tour schedule here! ~

Have you read When It All Syncs Up?

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Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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