Brooke's Pick: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
After picking up a book from the library, Yvette - who has given up on love - gains the ability to see how other people's romantic relationships will end.
I apparently forgot that this was a Nicola Yoon book up until the moment that I said “Oh no” aloud while reading her new novel, Instructions for Dancing. Yep, I thought I was going to get off easy without having my heartstrings tugged, pulled, and twisted up in knots, but that is never the case with a Yoon story. Instructions for Dancing, which follows a high school senior after she develops the strange and unsettling ability to visualize the start-to-end of a couples’ relationship after watching them kiss will make you smile one minute and cry the next. Yet like this novel’s theme - is it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? - the incredible journey is worth all of the insurmountable heartache.
Evie is a romance novel aficionado, although she tries to avoid all things “love” in her real life ever since her parents’ divorce. One day when she is donating some of her books to a Little Free Library, she meets an odd woman who gifts her with a book - Instructions for Dancing - and also the ability to see the journey of a couples’ relationship with just one kiss. Evie despises her newfound power, especially since it seems that relationship after relationship just ends in heartbreak.
When the book Instructions for Dancing leads Evie to the La Brea Dancing Studio, she meets a charming young man named X, grandson of the studio’s owners. When X’s grandparents pair up the two teens and insist they learn ballroom dancing and enter a competition to show up a rival dance studio, Evie and X find themselves getting close in more ways than one. After what she’s seen of relationships, the last thing Evie wants is to be falling for X, but is it possible to say “no” to love?
A satisfying blend of contemporary fiction and magical realism, Instructions for Dancing is first and foremost a story of a young girl coming into her own as she learns about life and love. The plucky and headstrong Evie sees the world in black and white, but what happens when shades of grey start to edge into her line of vision? Can she accept that her parents are not perfect? Will she learn that all love is not bad? If you enjoy coming-of-age stories, you will appreciate seeing Evie blossom and grow over the course of this heartfelt novel.
Then there is Evie and X, who make for an adorably refreshing couple … once they finally admit their feeling for each other, that is! I love how these teens, who are quite opposites, bring out the best in one another, introducing each other to new ways of seeing people and the world, while also exploring the other all at the same time. Yoon, who brings such emotion and depth to her characters, does a fine job of making you fall in love with this young couple, and will have you hanging on to every word of this novel, wishing and hoping that they get their happily ever after.
It should be said that Instructions for Dancing is actually not all about dance, as I initially expected. While Evie and X do take dance lessons (their instructor is hilarious and provides some much-appreciated comic relief) and participate in a dance competition, it is not the focus of this book, and serves only as a means to an end … the end being Evie and X’s burgeoning relationship. We get to know these two characters as they dance their way toward each other’s hearts, but the primary dancing that takes place in this book is more of the figurative than literal type.
Instructions for Dancing is an excellent choice for young adults looking for a read that has some depth. However, while it is pensive and deals with tough topics, it is also entertaining and fun. Young readers will see themselves within Evie and X, who are imperfect people, and will grow alongside them as they find their way in this world.
Availability: Book; eBook & eAudiobook in cloudLibrary Rating: **** Stars (I really liked it) Reviewer: Brooke, Public Relations Librarian
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GENRE: Magical Realism; Paranormal Romance
WRITING STYLE: Engaging; Well-Crafted Dialogue
SUBJECT: African Americans; Dance Schools; Dancing Instruction; High School Seniors; Magical Books; Seventeen-Year-Old Girls; Teenage Boy/Girl Relations; Teenage Girls; Visions
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