You know that feeling of picking up a book you’re sure you’ll hate…but it turns out quite good? I just had this feeling.
This will be a review! I promise! But also…let’s talk about dancing, shall we? You know you want to.
I’m a tiny bit confused as to who to thank for this book. I swear by my pink tutu that I got it from Allen & Unwin, but the cover says Bloomsbury. (Plus it’s selling on both sites.) SO. Thank you, to all concerned, for giving me this book (as a surprise) because I really really like getting mail. Okay, I’m done now. Flirty Dancing by Jenny McLachlan hits shelves on July 3rd, 2014.
Bea Hogg is shy but fiery inside. When national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It’s just a shame her best friend agreed to enter with school super-cow Pearl Harris. Bea will fight back! But when school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl’s boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea, she will have more than a fight on her hands.
This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.
You have to know the truth: I hate dancing.
It’s not my fault! I, personally, am just not a dancer. Although, I have been known to bop my head to Let It Go on demand of my 3-year-old
nephew Overlord. I’m just not a jiggling person. I’m rather like Grumpy Cat when it comes to dancing and fluffy books. Or grumpy penguin.
I wouldn’t have picked up Flirty Dancing by choice because of my grumpy penguin disposition.
But I’m not sad I read it! I have literally one negative thing to say about it. JUST ONE. What even is this? Is my cold heart melting? Am I being converted by red shoes and tutus? Okay, they were jiving so no tutus involved. But don’t rain on my salsa. I’m aware that salsas and jiving have nothing in common. Don’t rain on that either.
Apparently (yes, I researched), this is jiving:
In Flirty Dancing they did Bea (our narrator) up with a “50s look” too, and people accused Bea of “granny dancing”. Although this is a book and not a movie (dang it, it’d make a cute movie) I definitely felt the jiving was fast and took you through a regular workout.
Dancing is hard work. How can I sneer at people who work so hard? I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
But you want me to talk about the actual book, don’t you?
Flirty Dancing was fun, fluffy, and incredibly sweet.
My favourite part, I have to admit, is Bea’s gran and little sister, 3-year-old Emma. They stole the show more than once. Particularly Emma, because think of Ramona Quimby with a dash more good intentions. Emma is usually naked, covered in green felt-pen, and wearing her big sister’s bra on her head. In fact, the book begins with Emma:
A small naked person is licking me. I don’t panic — this happens a lot. The naked person starts kissing my face. I smell Marmite and banana and…hang on…the person is not entirely naked. It’s wearing wellies.
Let’s just say, I LOVE books about family. Bea legitimately loves her little sister, and her gran (the parents are there but basically non-events), and their relationships are so sweet!
Bea herself? She’s awkward and shy.
I worry, when I read books with shy protagonists, because usually the point of the book is to — BOOM — make them un-shy and live happily ever after. NOT SO. Bea’s favourite phrase is from Shakespeare, “Though she be little, she is fierce.” At home, Bea IS fierce. She’s wild and dorky and has fun. At school? She’s the bullied and forgotten kid. Bea’s journey is about learning to be herself wherever she is. I liked that.
What I will point out though…this book really truly feels middle-grade.
Bea is 14 and British, so I believe that puts her in highschool. But…the tone of the book, the voice, the feel, the cutsey first crush…it felt 99% juvenile. That’s not a bad thing! I just felt too old for the book. I’d recommend this to a 12-year-old in a flash.
So what’s this infamous negative I’m whinging about?
The book is pretty easy. Predictable, even? The antagonists are typical mean-girls and the problems are very obvious. It does deal with bullying in a smart way, though, which is fantastic. I’m 99% sure I’ve personally read too many books and therefore I felt this was average. (Plus I felt too old.) In the right hands, this book is gold.
But, I fully admit! I laughed out loud.
It’s so fluuuuuuffy I’m gonna die! Cute, funny and…flirty (oh gosh, I hate myself a little for my lame jokes but HUMOUR ME), Flirty Dancing pleasantly surprised me. I may not be preforming the jive myself, but it was interesting to watch others dance their tutus off.
Again, though…there were actually no tutus in this book. I just — oh, whatever. Ignore me.
Cait is kind of like Flynn Rider from Tangled because she just. doesn’t. dance. And she questions when other people start dancing and singing. She also fights with animals and wishes she owned a castle. See? Lots of similarities. Currently, Cait has just finished AN ABUNDANCE OF KATHERINES and is debating what to read next.