Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati
He tossed her into the air as if she were weightless, and just for a moment she seemed suspended there, defying gravity. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I knew what she was feeling. It was in every movement of every limb.
Here was a power I had never seen before, a kind of haunting loveliness I had never imagined. Seeing it made me long for something, I didn't know what . . .
Ditty was born to dance, but she was also born Jewish. When her strictly religious parents won't let her take ballet lessons, Ditty starts to dance in secret. But for how long can she keep her two worlds apart? And at what cost?
A dramatic and moving story about a girl who follows her dream, and finds herself questioning everything she believes in.
Publishes in US: Feb 8th 2013
Source: Flux via Netgalley
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Ditty has a love, a forbidden one, but for once it is not boys. It is ballet. Her parents don't approve, so she dances in secret, and falls more and more in love and becomes more talented. How deep can she get while keeping her secrets and the essence of who she is?
Ditty was quite a character. I could feel her love for dancing across the page as well as the pain and conflict of slowly letting go of her beliefs and others that she holds dear in order to pursue what she loves and what she is good at.
The sense of family in this one is unique. I appreciate how some of the parents are involved and some are not, and the degrees in between. We can see the effects of when the parents try to suppress their kids from doing what they wanted and loved and then ones who knew when to let go and be more hands off. I also appreciated the teachers' involvement in this story, when one in particular stepped up when she strictly did not have to.
I also appreciated the scope of friendship that I saw in this book. Ditty's closest friend Sarah is amazing, and how she covered for her friend and supported her even if she didn't agree really spoke to me. Then there is Emma from the dance company, how Robyn wrote her in, accepting Ditty but still asking questions like any teenager would. My favorite though, is probably Ditty's cousin Linda. I loved reading her character development and transformation, as well as her loyalty to Ditty throughout her changes.
At first all of the unfamiliar Jewish terms got to me, and I spent a lot of time flipping between bookmarks on my kindle, but eventually the most popular words worked their way into my head and I was able to read more seamlessly. There was time of course given to explaining and demonstrating what Ditty and her family practiced, and it was needed because I for one, had no idea the scope of haredi (the ultra conservative Jewish beliefs and practices of her family.) It really molded the family and what they said, did and interacted with. Every facet of their lives really. I never felt like I was being preached at though, it just seemed matter of fact and way of life for the characters, and it was sad and realistic at the same time the conversations Ditty had with Linda about questioning if this is the only way to live and watching Ditty give up pieces of herself and her religion in order to dance. But, ultimately she was learning what she believed and following her heart.
Bottom line: Powerful transformation of a young girl into a beautiful dancer and what she had to give up to get there.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you think you could abandon your religion for something you loved?