"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

22 May 2016

2016 Book Review #41: Pretending to Dance

I finally finished this library book this past week as I had time in the evenings to just sit and read.

It's a wonderful story with many parallels between the main character's childhood and her young adult life. 


Molly Arnette, age 14, grew up in the mountain area of Morrison Ridge in the town of Swannanoa, North Carolina.  She was an only child of Nora and Graham.  Graham was her biological father but her biological mother, whom she loved and had a relationship with, was Amalia.  Amalia also lived on Morrison Ridge....in fact, the entire community was made up of Arnettes including Nanny (Graham's mother), Uncle Trevor (Graham's alcoholic brother) and Aunt Toni, Uncle Jim and Aunt Claudia (Graham's sister and family peacemaker) and their Goth daughter Dani (Molly's cousin) who was a few years older than Molly.

Amalia and Molly have a good relationship and Amalia, a dancer, has always taught Molly to dance. They love to dance to all kinds of music.  This pleases Graham.  One day, Molly discovers the real story behind her adoption.  And it doesn't go the way she had thought.  

She begins to spend a lot of time in the springhouse...her home (a cabin really) away from home, up the road and through the woods.  She loved the band New Kids on the Block and Johnny Depp.  She was a regular teenager with a close relationship to her dad who was a psychologist/therapist.  His specialty was "pretend therapy" and he was even writing a book about it.  Because he had an advanced stage of MS, Molly would do the typing for his book while he dictated.  Her best friend was Stacy, from school, who had a lot more freedom than Molly.  Stacy first introduced Molly to Chris, a senior, and soon Molly was more interested in him than in her life on Morrison Ridge.

One summer evening, after her dad's book tour, she discovered that her dad was dying.  And it appeared to be at the hands of her mother and her father's full time aide, Russell.  Life was different after that night.  She never spoke to Nora or Amalia again. And she never danced again.  But why??

Fast forward to life in her 30s.  Molly is now happily married to Aiden.  Both of them are lawyers and have good jobs. They live in San Diego and are hoping to adopt a baby.  The whole process terrifies her.

During the background checks and filling out the questionnaires, Molly realizes that she has never told the truth to Aiden about her childhood. He thinks her mother, Nora, died of cancer.  But in fact, Nora is alive and well and still living in Morrison Ridge.  Molly ran away from her family 20 years ago and has never looked back.  In Molly's eyes, the Arnette family is dead to her.  Molly receives an email though from her cousin Dani, the only family member whom she has kept in touch with.

Amalia is dying and Dani wants Molly to come home.

Molly reveals her secrets to Aiden who encourages her to go home.  Meanwhile, Sienna, the young teen whom they are going to adopt their baby from, is about to give birth.  Can Molly go home during this time?  She does, and what she finds there surprises her.

Finally, the truth comes out.  And it isn't at all the way Molly thought for 20 years.

She discovers that even she does not know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.  What does she discover??

And will she ever dance again??


I loved the characters in this novel!  Molly was such an intense teenager....and what secrets she had to carry!  It was so believable.  I loved the setting and I loved that the author included a map of the Morrison Ridge area to help the reader visualize where everything was taking place.

The main themes in this story seem to be built around exploring family ties and what that entails, along with family lies and why this complicates so much.

The "pretend therapy" model is brilliant!  It works so well in the story between Molly's childhood and her adult life.

This book is about the problems we face when we can't, or won't, forgive.  Molly has to learn some very difficult lessons on the road to forgiveness.  The author does a fantastic job in getting the reader to speculate as to what Molly is going to feel when she learns the real truth.

and I was touched by learning that the author based this story on her own sister's struggle with Multiple Sclerosis.  Because of this, she was able to write about the physical and emotional struggles that Graham faced.

There was a moral dilemma to this story as well but I don't want to reveal what it was as I don't want to ruin the novel for you.

In my opinion, this story is appropriate for ages 17 and older (due to some content regarding s*xual activity).

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

You seem to like this author. I have a few books by her on my tbr list. I haven't seen this one before though.