March 20, 2009

Healing Wounds: House of Dance by Beth Kephart

This book was not at all what I expected—with a title like House of Dance, it’s easy to assume that it might be just another story about a girl who wants to be a dancer. That wasn’t it AT ALL. And I’ll now eat my humble pie for judging a book by its cover...which I routinely do.

House of Dance is truly a gem of a book. Written in prose that is spare, lovely, raw, and haunting all at the same time, I frequently found tears coming to my eyes at this story about fifteen-year-old Rosie Keith, whose father left the family long ago, whose mother is drifting away emotionally, and whose grandfather is dying.

The book itself has a rhythm, a flow like a stately dance, as the days of Rosie’s summer pass with visits to her grandfather, helping sort the piles of books and ephemera in his house as his health slowly deteriorates. With each visit, she learns a bit more about the past that he rarely discussed before, and Rosie finds out about the vibrant, music- and dance-loving grandmother she never met. Meanwhile, her mother continues to avoid the situation entirely, spending long hours at work with her boss/receding-hairline paramour Mr. Paul.

And then Rosie finds her own secret to keep: the House of Dance, a ballroom dancing studio upstairs from the shops on the main street near her grandfather’s house. The whirling color and music plant the seeds of an idea that she hopes might bring some joy to her ailing grandfather... and, in the process, Rosie herself finds joy in surprising places, even in the midst of sorrow. A complex story, simply and vividly written and brimming with emotion. Gorgeous. Should appeal to older YAs and adult readers.

Buy House of Dance from an independent bookstore near you!

10 comments:

tanita s. davis said...

Ooh, what a gorgeous cover. Can't wait to read this one, either.

Doret said...

I loved House of Dance. Always thought it would be good for a mother/daughter book club.

Charlotte said...

I loved this one too. It was so tightly done--there was so much emotion, but it didn't run all over the pages! The writing is gorgeous, and it was my favorite ya read of 2008.

Beth Kephart said...

I don't know how this happens. I'm here, late on a Friday night, relaxing with blogs I love and I click on yours because I often do, and there is something that shocks me. I always have to squint, I just do, when reading anything about anything I've written. I'm always so afraid.

I thank you. So much. I will link to it tomorrow.

b

Cloudscome said...

I'm definitely looking for this one now! Sounds wonderful.

Tessa said...

Indeed it does sound wonderful - and I'm not the least bit surprised that it is because I've recently discovered Beth's blog and have been transfixed by her beautifully lyrical prose. I'm so pleased you recommend that it is a book to be read by adults as well - I'm off to Amazon right now!

tanita s. davis said...

Beth, you're so cute. I join you in the "squinting." I know exactly what you mean! But definitely NO NEED TO SQUINT!!! Open your eyes wide, it's all good news.

Yay!

Em said...

Fabulous review! (And I'm not just saying that because I totally, completely agree with you...) ;-)

Saints and Spinners said...

I enjoyed this one, too. Despite reading Beth's blog regularly, in the back of my mind, I was expecting Strictly Ballroom or Shall We Dance? undertones.

a. fortis said...

Me, too, Farida. I couldn't help it--it's just this connotation that "dance books" have in my brain, I guess. :)

Thanks, Beth, for stopping by!!