Instructions for Dancing

Grade : A
Reviewed by Lisa Fernandes
Grade : A
Book type : Young Adult
Sensuality : Subtle
Review Date : July 7, 2021
Published On : 06/2021

Instructions for Dancing blew me away while asking some very deep and thought-provoking questions, and yet it also has a deft, gentle touch.  It is a heavy book; it hurts the reader’s heart and yet lifts them up, and will provide young readers with a signpost towards developing an understanding the bumps and heartbreaks ahead of them.

Evie Thomas is a one-time romantic whose entire worldview has been skewed by her parent’s divorce on the heels of her father’s infidelity.  She used to love to read and was a huge fan of romance novels, but when stricken with the bitter reality of the imperfection of  love, she’s understandably embittered. The appearance of a sudden magical power does not uncomplicate things.

While out one afternoon, Evie witnesses a couple kissing, and flashes through scenes of their relationship from the start to its bitter end.  It happens again, the next time she sees a couple kiss.  Unsure of what this means, she tries to explore the situation, but in the meantime she bumps into a boy outside of a dance academy while attempting to return a book she discovered in a little library box to its original owner.  Pressed into a dance battle – which she and her new partner win – she’s further tempted into spending time attending dance lessons at La Brea Dance Studio. The artistic X, who dragged her into that dance battle, remains her partner.

Evie and X have a lot of dance-floor chemistry with one another, but he is her polar opposite; while Evie is cautious, X is bold and adventurous.  With his encouragement, they jump into a ballroom dance competition.  But will her glimpses into the future they might have together pull them apart or bring them together?

As Yoon warns at the beginning of Instructions for Beginners, this is not a romance. Rather, this is a tale about Evie figuring out how to believe in the concept of love even though she knows it might end.  It asks if love is a worthwhile concept in and of itself when it’s not fairytale perfect.  So while the book is not a love story – it also kind of is, because Evie and X do love one another wholeheartedly.  But really, it’s about the concept.  The awe-inspiring possibility of love and the heavy, awkward weight it can leave behind on a person’s shoulders.

I liked bookish Evie, and how X brings her out of her shell and helps her connect to the musical world and teaches her how to dance.  I liked passionate X, whose lack of fear is admirable and whose pursuit of art and adventure is delightful. I liked how the book humanizes Evie’s father and his decisions, and explores Evie’s emotions about him proposing to and falling in love with another woman and how they get along.  I enjoyed the way it portrays Evie’s mother’s distraught, complicated feelings about the situation. The book’s wholly realistic portrayal of how hard and scary and yet worthwhile love can be is beautiful.

I couldn’t find much fault with this story.  Instructions For Dancing is a valuable book, a touching one, and a great piece of art.  It’s Yoon’s best novel yet.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer

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Lisa Fernandes

Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier
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