Saturday, 10 October 2015

Reviewed: I Hope You Dance by Beth Moran







I Hope You Dance was published by Lion Fiction on September 18, 2015.


Thanks to Rhoda at Lion Hudson for sending me a copy of this book to review.



I love that feeling when you pick up a book from a new-to-you author, not sure what to expect, and then finish the book completely in love with the author’s style of writing – knowing you’ll just have to read more from them in the future. I Hope You Dance is a book that drew me in right from the beginning, with a main character I liked straight away and a story I connected with. Firstly, I picked up this book at the right time because though dancing shoes I do not possess, I’m an avid Strictly fan and loved all the dancing mentions. Maybe a few more mentions of dance early on would have suited but it worked how it was. Honestly, the dancing theme is what initially made me want to read this book but there was far more to it than that and Beth Moran has written a story full of depth, full of characters to root for and full of an emotional story you might not quite be anticipating.

As we meet main character Ruth and her daughter Maggie, we quickly see that things aren’t going great for them. Ruth’s partner and father to Maggie has died, suddenly, leaving behind masses of debts and a teenage daughter on the warpath. Matters are made worse as Ruth becomes jobless too, and her and Maggie head to move in with Ruth’s parents. I wasn’t sure what would happen when Ruth moved back home. You could tell how much she was dreading it, and in one way, I could understand why – because nobody likes to be judged and moving back in with your parents, single, jobless and friendless when you’re thirty-three probably would cause a bit of a stir in a close-knit community. But another issue Ruth had was with the people there that she knew from her past, and I liked seeing her meet some of the people she really didn’t want to bump into – and discovering that some were very different to what she was expecting and not all bad.

There is just nothing really to dislike about this novel. Everything is written strongly, to be engaging and interesting and it’s another book I devoured in one sitting – and it was well worth the day I lost to it. I liked how we read sadness and happiness in well balanced measures – how it was easy to be moved and shed a tear yet a short while later you’d be smiling, and feeling reassured and uplifted. Ok, admittedly I did the shedding a tear part more often but that’s not a criticism! There was also a big serving of unpredictability in this novel which was a pleasant surprise. I never really knew what was going to come next and it made I Hope You Dance more exciting than the typical romance novel.

Another stand out point of this novel to me, other than the brilliant storytelling, was the sparkling set of characters. I loved the group of female friends Ruth made as they brought some well-timed light relief. I really can’t even express how much I loved reading their parts in the story. Some of the things they covered, which were never to be repeated outside of the group, cracked me up and they were just such a loyal, considerate bunch of friends. It was impossible to dislike them and I wanted a slice of their friendship, too. I simply loved seeing Ruth make friends because early on in this book, you see a woman lacking in self-confidence and self-belief – accepting her life slipping because there’s nowhere else for it to go. My heart reached out to Ruth and all I wanted was the very best for her.

The other main relationship I was fascinated with was between Ruth and her daughter, Maggie. They had an understandably up and down relationship, what with Maggie going through that teenage stage and having lost her dad, too. Maggie was at times a bit harsh, a bit expecting of her mother to live life the way she wanted her to. But I seriously did feel for Maggie too and there were stages, especially when she was at school, that I was really willing her on to come through the other side relatively unscathed. I also enjoyed the lighter moments Maggie shared with her mum because it surely wasn’t only anger inside of her.

There are many more things for me to mention that I liked or loved, because honestly I Hope You Dance was just that kind of fantastic book, but I do want to say that I felt like the romance element to this book was written exceptionally and perfectly. I adored it, truly.

Beth has written this book so intelligently, I can guarantee you it’s going to be a far better book than you’re expecting, even if you have the highest hopes for it. I really wasn’t imagining something this hard-hitting but it was hard-hitting in a way which wasn’t overwhelming, only completely rewarding. It made the happier, brighter moments more satisfying and how I wished for Ruth to get a break because she had so much to handle throughout the course of this book, and I somehow wasn’t sure how she could manage yet wholeheartedly believed in her, at the same time. I only have one tiny criticism of this book and that was how I found it a little bit difficult keeping up when everything bad was happening to Ruth all at once. I did sympathise with her so much but at times it made my head spin, also! It only bothered me slightly, though, because I did enjoy how each hardship in Ruth’s life was delivered and developed and how everything combined nicely together (nicely to read, not nicely to endure, in Ruth’s case).

The author really covers it all in this spectacularly good book. Every moment was worthwhile and fulfilling, every piece of the puzzle fit together and the ending of the book was one hundred percent fitting, and enjoyable. I couldn’t get enough of this story – the characters, the highs and the lows. One final thing I loved, if I haven’t mentioned that word enough already, was that Beth kept this book honest. She didn’t breeze over the more emotional moments and the characters didn’t get over them for the sake of moving the book on. It was paced to perfection and every scenario was realistic and easy to imagine. That then made the positive message throughout this glorious book work its magic and I ended up eager to grab life’s opportunities with both hands and make them count. That an author can take her characters on such an emotional journey and still with ease lift the reader’s spirits is a sign of a pretty talented writer to me and Beth Moran is now safely on my list of authors whose books I NEED to read. What a great book!


A beautiful, touching novel







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