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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Dance on My Grave

So every year we get a list of books out of which we may choose to read for school. This year for my Dutch class, we're assigned to read 4 books of the list. The first one was from the author Floortje Zwigtman and I enjoyed it. My second book was Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers

It's about two boys, Henry Robinson and Barry Gorman. They meet at some rather weird circumstances. Let's just say Barry comes to the rescue. They immediately get along and grow a strong friendship. But Barry wants more and Hal (Henry's nickname) already knew it from the start. And they fall in love. It's simple but! Yes there comes a "but".  
One of the two dies and the book concentrates on the thoughts about the one that's left behind. These observations, thoughts and sometimes heartbreaking feelings are revealed in the book by little sketches, his own writings, press clippings and scattered noted of the social worker that has come to observe him. Why? Because he danced on the grave of his beloved one and is now being sued.  These various perspectives contribute to an extraordinarily sensitive portrait of the intensity of first love.

The book is divided in 4 parts, to be honest I really started to enjoy the book from part 3. It's not that I didn't enjoy the first two parts but it just went slow. Too slow in my opinion. He wasn't to the point but talked a lot around what he wanted to say. That changed in part 3 which I'm glad it did.

As for both of the boys, I loved them. You had Henry, who doesn't like his name so he wants everyone to call him Hal. He's insecure about himself, doesn't know what to do with his life and isn't that adventures. Whereas Barry is totally different, Barry's dad died some years ago and ever since then he's working in his father's shop with his mom. Barry is confident, knows how to sail and ride a motorcycle. He loves to go fast and go on adventures. But you know what they say, opposites attract each other and that's shown in this book. 

Another character in the book is the social working. We see her notes in the book too and I liked that they were there. If they weren't there it wouldn't have mattered but the book from is told from past events and then evolves to the present. And her notes make sure you know how she and the judge, teachers, parents think about the situation in the present. How he's doing, how he's coping with it and everything. It gave me as a reader some room for thought. Is it normal how he behaves? Isn't he overreacting when he did that? Is she doing the right thing? Or should she try to talk with him on a different manner? And as I already said there are also sketches in the book, room for detail? Excellent. The sketches are often used to show what he means with what he says and sometimes I found that come in handy because he uses terms I didn't understand. The author also makes use of explanations from dictionaries and gives more information about for example: the Thames. No it's not there likes a lesson, it's presented elegant and plain.
And something I loved the most in the book were the press clippings. There were two press clippings, one where was being told why the character was being sued and at the end, where was explained what was said at the jurisdiction. So you know how it ends, will he go to prison? Will he go to a psychologist? Will he go into an institute? Does he just get help and get supervision? You'll know at the end of the book and I like that. You'll know if all of his hard work (saying what happened and why he did what he did while it was hard for him to talk about it), will have payed off. 


But I do have something negative about the book. The first thing that it went slow but the second thing is that I found it rather weird how the next chapter was indicated. If you entered a new chapter, there was the number of the chapter just at the begin of the first sentence. And it was in the same character size and that did cause irritation within me because I'm the kind of reader that can't stop in the middle of a page. I need to finish a chapter and start with a new page. Here the new 'page' started in the middle of the page and I often didn't know if I was already in a new chapter because I basically read over the number. 

Though if you have this book on your reading list for school or reading list in general: the story is beautiful. I did have an emotional moment because you know he has to dance on the grave but he just has a mental break down while he does it. But I do like the story because it shows you how people react after someone dies, especially when it's your beloved one. A nice book with room for thought and details but with some remarks, not that bad! 
The cover that you see now on the picture isn't the most beautiful one I know, but it's from the library and it seems like it's been tortured by a lot of readers. There are other covers that I liked more but it is what it is. Take what you can get, right? So don't judge the book by it's cover. It's better than that. 

"No matter which one of us both dies first, the other one promises that he will dance on his grave. No but. Just promise it."

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