Saturday, February 21, 2009

House of Dance, by Beth Kephart

With her mother distracted by an affair with her married co-worker, Rosie is left alone to help her dying grandfather go through his possessions and decide what to give away. It's an eye-opening journey for Rosie who has not known that much about her grandfather before. Determined to give him something very special before he is gone, Rosie organizes a party for Granddad with the help of the dance students at a local studio.

Beautifully written and inspired by the death of Kephart's mother, this story of family and dealing with change is striking and memorable. It is not, however, a YA book, despite its teenaged heroine. I have no doubt that some young readers might enjoy it (and many adult readers will be taken by the gorgeous narrative and adult observations of the characters), but it is being mis-marketed to a teen audience. Moreover, it suffers from one of my least favorite attributes of the adult modern novel: the tendency to use characters and story to sell a point, rather than letting the characters find their way into your heart. As beautiful as the story was, I never found myself caring for the characters at all.

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