Venkatraman, Padma. A Time to Dance
May 1st 2014
by Nancy Paulsen Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Veda has studied classical Indian bharatanatyam dance for years, and it is the only thing that makes her happy. Her mother would like her to become a doctor or engineer, but school is not a top priority for Veda. Dance makes her feel alive. She has a great triumph at a dance competition, and she even enjoys the way the boys look at her when she wins-- dance makes her beautiful, she feels. When a disastrous bus accident results in the loss of her leg, she is devastated, but with the help of an American doctor, Jim, she is able to work on walking and dancing. She has an embarrassing crush on Jim, but develops deeper feelings for Govinda, a teacher at the school where she starts studying dance all over again with younger children. She realizes what she has felt all along-- that dancing is not just physical, but has a spiritual component as well.
Strengths: This would be a good pairing with Van Draanen's The Running Dream, or Staple's Shiva's Fire. I liked the descriptions of life in India, especially the details of the grandmother's and parents' lives. Veda's reactions are realistic, and the romances are a nice touch.
Weaknesses: The novel in verse format leaves out a lot of descriptions, or makes them more poetic. For students who don't know what living in India is like, I think that straight prose could be more descriptive. Still, I will buy it, because it was very interesting.