House of Dance
Quietly Rosie enters his house and discovers him napping on the couch with a travel magazine tented on his chest. This is the beginning of a wonderful relationship. As the days go by, Rosie discovers many things about her grandfather: how much he loved is wife, Aideen, how he would watch her dance, how the music and dancing would transport them both to faraway places..the waltz, the mambo and the rumba&all the places he would read about in his magazines.
Kephart eloquently describes the sights Rosie sees as she walks to her grandfathers house: the multicolored balloons floating outside one store, the message of the day in the bookstore window, commuters disembarking the train, rain pelting down, wonderful aromas of the bakery, the taste of deli pickles. One day she hears music, stops and glances up becoming entranced by the sight, through a second story window, of two people dancing, at first entwined in each other, then separating and returning to each others arms. The concentration. The music. When the House of Dance offers a free lesson, Rosie hesitatingly gives dancing a try.
As Rosies grandfathers health starts its rapid decline, an idea germinates. It is this idea that prods her to continue her dancing lessons. While Rosies story itself is heartwarming, it is enhanced by Kebharts beautiful writing. Readers will feel like they are Rosies shadow, looking over her shoulder, sharing the experience. Readers will be introduced to bald Mr. Paul, Rosies neighbor and crush Nick, friendly store owners along her daily path, dancers. They will become friends, cohorts in Rosies scheme. House of Dance is one of the best written books of 2008. Dance to your local library and read it.
Author: Beth Kephart
Genre: YA fiction
Where I got it: E-library
One sentence: Rosie tries to cope with her absentee mother and her grandfather’s impending death and holding onto his memories through learning how to dance.
Themes: Loss, dance, coming-of-age
Main character: Rosie is an insightful fifteen year old trying to deal with the sickness and impending loss of her grandfather as her mother has an affair with a married man. I thought Rosie’s character was well-developed and strong; she was very mature for her age and worked through the process of death through learning the waltz, like her grandmother used to dance.
Secondary characters: Kephart tried to bring in the secondary character of Nate, but he seemed too conspicuously absent to even be a minor character. I thought the character of Rosie’s mother was particularly intriguing in how she was both absent (but very much a presence) and how she was the other woman.
Writing style: Kephart actually had a very mature and fluid writing style that I found compelling and beautiful, especially in a young adult novel, where I feel too often, writing focuses on action and not on description or style in the writing itself.
Plot: I thought there would be more actually dance involved in the novel; instead it seemed to focus on the relationship between Rosie and the other characters: her grandfather, her mother, and how she used dance as a gift to her grandfather. Ultimately, I wished there was some more depth to the plot.
Positives: Rosie’s character, the writing style
Negatives: Not a lot of plot, some minor characters underdeveloped, slow start
Ending: I wish Kephart would have actually included the party at the end! I felt like the novel needed, and was working up to some sort of climax, and I was left wanting to know what the party was like.
Verdict: Cute and refreshing in writing style and character portrayal, but ultimately unsatisfying.
After reading Undercover by Beth Kephart, I couldn't wait to read her latest book, House of Dance. I was not disappointed. She has the ability to create magical moments and stories out of everyday life. House of Dance is the simple story of Rosie, who takes care of her dying grandfather for the summer. It also delves into the complicated relationships between parents and children. The words are so lyrical that I felt what Rosie felt, saw what she saw, smelled what she smelled. Kephart's books are always very visual and symbolic. It makes the story that much more rewarding. As long as she keeps writing books, I will keep reading.
I loved House of Dance, definitely my kind of book. I love when there is dancing in a book, even if it has a small, understated part of the book like in this one. It's hard to describe but I enjoy the feel it gives the whole novel.
The characters in House of Dance are all well developed, even the minor characters. Flashbacks to Rosie's childhood give a stronger sense of who these people are while they play less of a role during the summer season.
The main focus of the novel is Rosie's relationship with her dying grandfather. I think anyone could relate to this by comparing it to a close relationship they have with a parent, aunt or someone else they're close to. But I felt it an especially touching story because I am close to my grandparents. The direct connection to the character made it all the more enjoyable and relatable for me.
Overall House of Dance is a sweet, heart warming novel that I highly recommend. I definitely plan on reading Beth's other novel, Undercover which sounds completely charming.
Rosie isn't having the greatest summer and the worst thing is it just started. First of all her and her mom don't have the greatest relationship, all her friends are away and the worst thing is her grandpa is dying of cancer. Wanting to spend as much time as possible with him Rosie goes to his house, which is just across town, everyday. During the days with her grandpa not only does she talk with him, but she helps him clean out his cluttered house. As she is going through old things she starts to learn more about the life her grandpa, and for that fact her dead grandma, lived. On her way home one night Rosie hears music wafting through the air. As she looks up she sees magnificent dancers through the large windows. Now every time Rosie passes by The House of Dance she looks up to see the light steps of the dancers. One day Rosie plucks up the courage to go see for herself what the House of Dance is like and takes them up on their offer of one free lesson. Rosie falls in love with ballroom dancing and decides to keep it up. Through dance Rosie learns more about her grandpa's life and decides to give him the best gift she can.
The way I felt after reading this book is really hard to describe with words, it was just that amazing and fantabulous! Everything about it was just awesome. First I must start with the writing style. It was what I loved most about the book. Beth Kephart's words flowed so well together and they almost seemed to be lyrical. Also the description was great. I felt like I was walking right alongside Rosie, looking into the shop windows and smelling the breads at the bakery. Then the story itself was great. I loved how Rosie really came to find herself and learn to deal with difficult situations. I also loved Rosie's emotions in the book. They were really raw and heartfelt and made me just fall in love with Rosie herself. I highly recommend this book to everyone and I guarantee you will fall in love with it. One last thing that is barely book related but I want to talk about - the bookcover - Don't you think it is so cute? It represents the book perfectly in my opinion and just makes the whole book sparkle!