Book Reviews · Young Adult

Book Review: “A Time to Dance” by Padma Venkatraman

A Time to Dance
A Time to Dance
by Padma Venkatraman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I plucked this book off of a shelf at my local library because of the cover. The title didn’t seem interesting to me but I thought it was intriguing that the book was such a warm color and that the girl on the cover wasn’t white and that she was dressed in very cultural clothing. The synopsis didn’t appeal to me, either, because this trope in books about someone with a disability finding the will to live their lives despite that injury or defect is overused and worn out. Yet. Something about this book called me to it, so I checked it out and when I started reading it at four in the afternoon, I didn’t put it down for three hours when I finished it. And I am so glad I read it.

My thoughts on the characters:
I have such complicated feelings towards the main character Veda. She is problematic, but she is written with so much humanity that I couldn’t feel like I disliked her. She has wonderful moments and the way she sees the word is fantastic. Her actions are so true to what I would imagine she would feel and how she would react and I love her for who she is.
I thought Jim was such a great character to help further Veda’s complexity. He was great but it still felt uncomfortable for him to be there just because of how Veda felt towards him.
Govinda started off amazing, but towards the end I wished Veda would express her thoughts towards him about the way he was treating her and I didn’t like how she accepts him and understands him when he does have some pretty big faults. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed, too, about how his issues were resolved because it didn’t feel real, almost like Venkatraman (the author) didn’t want to bother with him anymore but she needed to wrap up his story.
The other girls that Veda interacts with are so essential to her story that I cannot fathom how this book would have worked without those personalities. Veda needed them to show all sides of her story and I’m glad for every single one of them.
I liked the family complexities that Venkatraman wrote for Veda’s family. I loved how genuine they were and the attitudes they created, especially her mom, with the way that Veda lives her life. Her grandmother was phenomenal and I feel like I learned the most from her story in this novel.

My thoughts on the plot:
Even though I read this book in one sitting, I had trouble getting into it in the beginning. The style in which Venkatraman writes makes reading this novel much easier (it’s structured almost like poetry), so I read through the first hundred pages without realizing it. It doesn’t take long to see how important dance is to Veda, but I felt like her feelings towards dance dragged on in. This was on purpose and I’m grateful that Venkatraman wrote it like this because it really has much more of an impact when you understand completely just how important and essential dance is to Veda and then her accident takes that all away from her. It almost felt like she had become a part of the air I breathe and then her accident cut off that air supply. I loved the direction that this story went into after that. I’m so accustomed to reading books that are linear, but this novel almost had like three stories that had separate climaxes but the resolution of one was the rising action of the next one. I loved it. I loved how this story takes place over the time span of about a year or more and it shows you exactly how life can change in such little time. I especially loved the ending because it felt complete, like the air that was cut off in Veda’s accident was returned to my lungs.

Overall, this book turned out to be a much more important and life-changing story than I had initially anticipated. I would recommend that anyone who enjoys raw emotion and a serious look into personal beliefs and philosophies should read this book. It truly shifted something inside me that can only work out for the best.

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