Books, Inspiration

A Time to Dance- Book Review


Classical Dancer in the style Bharatanatyam- by elkor
Classical Dancer in the style Bharatanatyam- by elkor


Can you believe it? We’re in the middle of summer already. Days shoot by like the unseasonably hot temperatures recently experienced in Southern California.

A lack of air conditioning and a very warm house makes for evening reading on my porch swing while I occasionally swat at mosquitos or my dog, Chip, who tries to jump up to join me. His 35 pounds of muscle sway the swing enough to give me vertigo. When that happens, I take my book inside and read from 10 p.m to midnight, when it’s cooler.

This is my summer reading list and I’m two books into the pile with one, “The Ice Cream Queen,” a third of the way read.

Research for a current work in progress had me digress into three other books, so my ambitious 10 books to read in 12 weeks of summer has suffered a bit.

But on to the first book: 

A Time To Dance by Padma Venkatram. YA/Adult Fiction

This is the author’s third book. Her critically acclaimed novels Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End were both ALA/YALSA Best Book for Young Adults, NYPL Book for the Teen Age, Kirkus Best Book of the Year, among several other awards.

My skin tingles as I step into the music,

give in to the icy thrill of pleasure

that spreads through me whenever I dance,

the pleasure of leaping into a cool lake on a 

sweltering day.

Veda is a teenager passionate about Bharatanatyam, an ancient classical Indian dance. She wins competitions, lives dance and sees a bright future following this passion although her parents want her to chose another occupation, which causes her some conflict and mimics the conflict that her romantic interest faces.

After an accident, Veda’s leg is amputated below the knee. Adjusting to a prosthetic is not only painful and humbling, but emotionally crushing. When she struggles to dance again, she faces ridicule from schoolmates, stumbles, and physical pain. An opportunity, as an instructor of dance for young children, illustrates the development of Veda’s resilience, character, and her adaptation to a new reality.

The main character’s are likable, realistic in reactions, portray traditional parents and a gentle, inspiring grandmother. What I especially enjoyed were the inclusion of traditional dress, foods, and the prayer rituals.

Each chapter is constructed as a poem, some one page others three or four pages. The writing is poetic, filled with imagery and as rhythmic as the classic dance which Veda studies. If this novel had been written in narrative, it would have been much shorter than 300 pages. It is a quick read and worth the time.

This book is under $10 on Kindle.

Recommendation: Add it to your library.