I received an eARC of this for my participation in this tour. Thank you to Dave @ TheWriteReads & the publisher. This hasn’t influenced my review in any way, my review is honest and unbiased.
Title: Instructions for Dancing
Author: Nicola Yoon
Published: June 1st 2021
Age Range: Young Adult
Length: 304 pages
Source: Blog Tour (NetGalley)
Representation: author of color, BIPOC rep (black mc + li), lesbian sc (f/f pairing)
Grief (death of a loved one off page)
Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.
When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.
For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.
But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?
Reasons to read Instructions for Dancing:
- The chapter breaks with bookish lists
- The fun writing style
This is my type of contemporary in the sense that it is not too sweet, not too happy and yet has many cute and funny scenes. It’s also very life-affirming and shows you that it all is worth it. Even if it doesn’t seem that way.
For my personal taste, it is a bit too direct in conveying this message though, but that is definitely my thing where I like everything to be vague.
I love how the book starts. Immediately we see how down Evie feels. Her books have lost their magic for her, especially the contemporary romances don’t move her anymore, don’t evoke the same feelings of swooning she had while reading them previously. This is such a cool way of introducing a characters state of mind! (Also, relatable! When I feel down, I usually notice that my reading habits change a lot). We see it in the small changes of her favourite tropes as well (like thinking that second chance romances are the most unrealistic ones).
Instructions for Dancing is written in first person pov which is the perfect choice for this story which is very much about Evie and her coming to terms with the changes in her life and her disillusionment with the world, love and her idea of who her Dad is.
And after a fateful encounter with a woman at a tiny library (where she donates all her romance books too), she has a new gift, although Evie may disagree with that interpretation. She can suddenly see all the most important moments in a couples story, present, past and future! Understandably that throws her off a bit. Luckily she has one of the most open-minded friend. Martin, who listens and analyzes this with her and encourages her to just go with it and see where it leads her.
And where it leads her is a ballroom dancing school. I loved the scene where Evie and X meet for the first time. It was so funny, especially with Evie’s internal commentary.
Another highlight for me personally was Fifi. She is amazing and I love her very much! I would love to have her as my dancing instructor (although I would die if she’d made me dance in front of tourists, so maybe not). Her criticism was on point and funny and just … I love her!
Another plus point is the writing style which brings levity into the reading experience to contrast some of the heavier themes like grief.
Evie’s bitterness comes out through snark which makes for some intriguing interactions with X. I really love the way this is written, with the short chapters, the Lists in between that feature bookish tropes and characteristics of classic love interests and such things and Evie relates everything happening to her back to romance book tropes like banter and what she calls shipwrecked couples. It’s such a cool way to break up the flow and staying in the story at the same time.
I flew through the pages! If you are currently suffering through a reading slump, this is exactly the book that could pull you out of it. Fun and light but also with some deeper themes.
All in all, this was a really fun read with themes like grief and disillusionment that I really appreciated and were very well done. I personally felt a little bit of disconnect towards the end, which is why I gave it four stars, but it also made me shed some tears so definitely a recommendation from me!
Would recommend to:
Everyone in a reading slump! Also everyone who likes stories that ask questions about whether or not loving someone is worth it.