I reviewed A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman, when it was first released in 2014 by Nancy Paulsen Books. It is a beautiful story written in free verse. The author has sent me an autographed paperback copy (2015) to give away to one lucky reader. All you need to do is leave a comment below indicate your interest, follow my website, and be a resident of the US or Canada. I will announce the winner on September 13. I have included part of my earlier review of this remarkable gem. The hardback copy is a permanent resident on my bookshelf.
Suitable for ages: 12 and up
Awards: ALA Notable Book, Booklist Editor’s Choice, Kirkus, other national and international awards
Themes: Dance, India, Amputee, Disabilities, Abilities, Loss, Courage, Recovery
Book Jacket Synopsis: Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance–so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown up used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling.
But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
Why I like this book: This inspirational and courageous novel is lyrical with each word carefully chosen. Verse is the perfect medium. Padma Venkatraman weaves together a story about loss and resilience of a girl determined to dance once again her beloved Indian Bharatanatyam. This is not a story about disability, but one of ability. It is about finding the deeper spiritual meaning of the dance over the applause. “For my invisible audience of the One I begin to dance./ Colors blur into whiteness and a lilting tune that is and is not of the world resonates within and without me./ My body feels whole./In the beat of my heart I hear again the eternal rhythm of Shiva’s feet.”
Reading Venkatraman’s novel is an experience of India in all its beauty, cultural traditions, senses and sounds. If you listen closely you can hear the faint echo of a dancing rhythm. Thaiya thai. Thaiya thai. I highly recommend this beautiful novel for tweens and teens who have faced challenges in their lives. This book is a treasure!
Padma Venkatraman is a chief scientist and oceanographer by training and a writer by choice. She is the author of Climbing the Stairs and Island’s End, both multi-award winners. Padma was born in India, but is now an American citizen. Visit Padma at her website. It has discussion questions and teaching resources.
Check other Middle Grade review links on author Shannon Messenger’s Marvelous Middle Grade Monday post.