Nicola Yoon's INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING - Celebrating the Beauty and Complexity of Love
by Ashley Dickson-Ellison (@teachingtheapocalypse)
I absolutely love Nicola Yoon's work and could not wait to read her latest book! Thank you to partner NetGalley for the ARC of this one; Nicola Yoon's Instructions for Dancing releases on June 1st, so preorder your copy today!
The question at the center of this book is a hard one—should we continue to love others even though all love essentially ends in loss? It's a heavy question that resonates throughout this book. As the story begins, we find Evie packing up her previously beloved romance books; she plans to donate them. Although they are lovingly organized by sub-genre and have been her treasure, after learning about her dad's affair (which has remained secret from her sister) and watching her parents' marriage deteriorate and end in divorce, she finds she has no room left in her heart for love stories.
And yet after an unusual encounter with a quirky elderly woman at the local Little Free Library, mysterious forces are at work, and Evie discovers she has a surprising new magical ability. This mystical skill adds to Evie's complicated feelings about love and romance. In an effort to figure out more about the strange new skill she possesses, she winds up at the local ballroom dance studio, where she meets X, the grandson of the studio's owners. X has also seen his share of hardship, but he maintains a "yes" attitude and continues to embrace the positive parts of life undeterred by setbacks. Despite this encounter with X and the cracks in Evie's stoic exterior, she remains steadfastly determined to keep her distance:
"I know how this looks. it looks like we're bantering, like sparks are flying between us like in witty, old romantic comedies. It looks like the start of something. But I promise you, there are no sparks. Nothing is on fire here."
As X and Evie get to know each other better, it becomes harder and harder for Evie to maintain her resolve to stay away from romance for good. And yet the more that she learns about love, the more she worries about what the stakes are for the people who are in it. Evie comes to see that there are no easy answers in relationships, and yet she also learns more and more about how much people need each other. Along the way, there's lovely banter, amazing friends and family, and more than a little dancing.
I shed more than a few tears during this beautiful book. I loved Evie so much, and X is amazing. I also adored the secondary characters, each of whom were richly crafted. Nicola Yoon continues to amaze me with her phenomenal skills! There are so many gorgeous passages, but I'll leave you with these words from Evie's dad... and with the not so subtle suggestion that you go read this amazing book!
"But I know that to love is human. We can't help ourselves. The philosopher-poets say love is the answer, but it's more than that. love is the question and the answer and the reason to ask in the first place. It's everything. All of it."
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