Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cry Dance by Helen Bonner - 2012 Sharp Writ Book Awards Winners: General Fiction

From the Sharp Writ Book Awards judges:

  • Excellent! Rich, mature writing and descriptive quality as well as a compelling plot. A winner in my judgement. 
  • This is a very moving story about a young woman who learns to accept others while also seeing hardship. It incorporates the atrocities of the Iraq war so it is a very contemporary book. I highly recommend it. 
  • I really like how this author writes. It was an almost perfect book, just can't put my finger on what it was that didn't work for me. 
  • This is the third of Helen Bonner's books that I've read this year and it is by far the strongest. The other two had many strengths, but were flawed; however, in Cry Dance, she gets it all right.  My only quibble is the voice of one of the characters (Grandy), which is done in slang - very hard to do well without it quickly becoming an obtrusive or irritating tic.  Beyond that, this is a touching story that I couldn't put down.  Sidebar: I find it fascinating as a musician, how in literature, music is often used to express the deep, nonverbal, inexpressible communication. She does so well and her use of opera shows knowledge and insight, rather than having it simply represent a pasted in symbol.

Review by Jenny Luper (review submitted by author)

"She smells of alcohol and perfume. She leans over and gives me a kiss, somehow vague, as if it were blown to me." 

Blending aspects of romance, new age, and chick lit, Cry Dance follows the journey of a young woman through love, loss, and a return to self. Lorinda has grown up with only the memory of her mother and the belief that there is no death. Though she tries to keep her faith in love, circumstances put her faith to the test. She is heartbroken when she finds her lover believes she has betrayed him, and a possible charge of murder pending against her doesn't help matters. Three name changes, burgeoning fame, and the loss of a loved one later, Lorinda decides on what shall be her true self and her true name. 

This new take on a romance provides many surprises. In a story interspersed with tones of new age fiction and self-help books, an unexpectedly quick pace pushes through an action-filled plot. While not giving away any spoilers, the ending is satisfying in a unique way, taking care to avoid cliches. Bonner is also adept at bringing in the senses when creating a landscape for her characters. Whether a scene is set in a bedroom, the desert, or a run-down nightclub, the surroundings are shown by a clear sense of texture, sight, and sound. This technique provides a firm sense of setting, allowing the reader to more fully delve into the novel's themes of betrayal and redemption. Bonner's skill in peppering her novel with these sweet, yet melancholy details give a refreshing depth of tone to Cry Dance.



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