Monday, March 14, 2016

A Time to Dance

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman
Read: 10/17/15-10/24/15
This review mostly written on: 2/17/16

Beautiful, moving book in verse, a YA novel about a girl in India. For those looking for diverse books to read, this one fits the bill in multiple ways. I'm not going to tell you about one of the most important ways, however, as it's a little bit of a spoiler. The majority of the book is about it, but if you want to read those first 30 pages without knowing... Also, if you don't want that spoiler, be very careful to avoid the cover blurb, and don't read any of the Library of Congress classifications on the copyright page.

Or other reviews. Though many of them are better and more in-depth than mine, they do almost all have The Spoiler, so be warned.

I will say that I haven't read many books from a Hindu perspective, and I found it fascinating. I'd like to read more, as it's, um. Kind of a huge thing in our world.

I started this book during Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon last year, and chose it for Modern Mrs. Darcy's reading challenge, the book you chose based on the cover category, based solely on this roundup of YA books with purple covers. Isn't it pretty?? But then the library copy I got had the same cover design, but not purple. Sad.

So yeah, I really didn't know anything about it besides the cover, and I'm a little glad, because I think knowing it was in verse might have actually put me off a bit. As it turned out though, I loved it, especially once I got into it.

A few quotes, the only favorite lines I could include without spoilers (I hope they don't seem too cliché or cheesy stripped of context -- taken as a whole, I don't think they are; and certainly some of the more spoilery lines I didn't include aren't):

"I glance at my dancing Shiva,
His left leg raised parallel to the earth,
His right leg crushing the demon of ignorance,
His inner hands juxtaposed, palms flat,
His outer hands
holding aloft the fire of creation and destruction,
and a drum
keeping time to the music of His eternal dance.
I try to repeat Paati's prayer. I strain my ears to hear
His music. 
"It feels like Shiva destroyed my universes of possibility,
like He's dancing
on the ashes
of my snatched-away dreams."

"I want to voice my thoughts but they stay trapped in my mind.
Chained feet that can't escape.
We fall into that unhappy place
where words are snatched away
and silence feels loud."

"Akka stretches her arms out toward me.
And I realize
she's showing me I'm strong enough to reenter the pit of despair
because she wants to help me
climb all the way out."

If anyone's read it, I'd love to discuss other passages and themes with you. Ahh, Veda's breakthrough with Uma...!

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