Book reviews

Book Review: A TIME TO DANCE By Padma Venkatraman

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“Veda is a prize-winning dancer, skilled in the fine art of traditional Indian Bharatanatyam. Then she is injured in a bus accident, and her right leg must be amputated below the knee. Her dance teacher does not believe she will ever dance again. But Veda is too passionate to abandon her dream and finds a new teacher who shares her hope. And though she must relearn even the most basic of steps, his faith in her allows her to reclaim the art form that has brought her so much joy. Told through lyrical, evocative verse, this is a powerful novel of loss, recovery, and resilience of the human spirit.” – summary on the back of the book.

First and foremost, hooray for diverse books! I have never read a book with an Indian main character. So I was stoked to find a book that not only had an Indian main character but the story actually took place in India and I would be learning about a traditional Indian dance. Yay! Another thing that drew me into this book was the way it was written; it is written in verse like poetry. Having never read a book in that form, I decided to give it a try and this author did not disappoint. This story was beautifully written and even though it is written in verse, it still flows and tells the story seamlessly just as any other book would. It is a fast paced read due to the short chapters and the easiness of the style of writing. The book is also only a little over 300 pages; good for a quick read in between a long series, to get out of a reading slump, or to just read something different.

Veda’s character is well-thought out and at the times that she would feel emotional pain due to the happenings in her life, I felt it too. Although I could not relate to her situation or her culture, there were other things that I could relate to such as her faith and how she questioned whether or not her God was really there, if he cared about her, why he allowed certain things to happen to her as well as other people, and whether or not she could really feel him. That is something that I struggle with as well. Just like Veda, I believe in a higher being; a greater entity, but there are times where I feel that he is just not here with me (sorry, didn’t mean to get so personal). Most importantly, I could empathize with her. That is what I think makes a good book; being able to relate and touch minds across cultures and many different backgrounds.

I really felt that I was going through Veda’s journey of recovery with her. I could understand her mental pain at having to learn to live life without her real leg, learning to walk again when before, she never had to think twice about it. Her anger and bitterness were real and I imagine anyone who has actually gone through this has felt the same way. Her anger wasn’t always directed at the right person but it didn’t take away from liking her as a character. It was all just a part of the journey.

There is a romance in this book but it is very light. There is no kissing or hugging or anything like that and for that I am grateful. I went into this book thinking that I will be reading about a girl who has to learn to use her body again, rebuild her mental state to become strong again; a story about learning to dance again and the true meaning behind it; a story of human resiliency, some stubbornness, and self-growth. While we did get those things, I was thrown for a loop when a romance starting blossoming and I was left screaming “noooooooo!”. I didn’t want it. I felt it wasn’t needed. Why must authors make the girls in their books fall in love all the time? Why?? Ugh.

Initially, the reader is made to think that the romance is going to be between her and a certain someone but that gets shut down after a few chapters. I was glad for that because it was inappropriate and she was catching feelings for all the wrong reasons. But then she catches feelings for someone else just as quickly as she got shut down the first time around. I felt like I had whiplash with how fast she moved on. She caught feelings way too fast and read too far and too quickly into everything. I found it annoying. But once it was established that this was who the romance was going to be between it was actually quite sweet. It was slow building, filled with care and acceptance, and based off of actually getting to know each other instead of jumping into kissing and hugging and engaging in “sexy time” (I’m sure this also has to do with the more reserved culture presented in the book). In all honesty, it was everything you want a romance to be in a book…

…IF you want a romance.

In my case, I did not want the romance and I kind of was not expecting there to be one based off the summary on the back of the book. But oh well. This will not be a downfall for everyone.

One other thing that I did not like was that even though the book has an epilogue, I really felt that the book just…ended. I’m not sure what else I wanted to happen but the way it ended was just too abrupt for me. I would still recommend this book because as I said before, it is beautifully written and I think many different people can enjoy it. There were many times where I felt the need to underline a passage because it was either extremely beautiful and poetic, or because it spoke to me on a deeper level.

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Overall:

Pros

  • Well thought out characters
  • Wonderfully written
  • Easy read/ quick read
  • Sweet romance
  • Great showing of growth in main character

Cons

  • Abrupt ending
  • Romance not needed (I also put this as a Pro as some people won’t care whether or not there is a romance. Take this with a grain of salt.)

I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars. I took off half a star due to the abrupt ending. I wanted more. And the other half a star was removed due to the romance. I didn’t want it. I still highly recommend this book as I love that this book covers so many aspects of diversity: Indian characters, traditional culture, Indian author, and the main character is an amputee. If you haven’t, give this book a try! And if you have read this book, what did you think of it??

Til next time, later peeps 🙂

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