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A Time to Dance...Book Review

Every once in a while I come across a book that leaves me awestruck.

Achingly beautiful, this is one such book that will stay with me a while. 

I picked this book to add to our library collection for our current theme ‘thIS Ability’, through which we are highlighting books featuring characters with disabilities, both seen and unseen,…focussing on their abilities and how the people around them enable their autonomy. 

Veda lives and breathes dance. When a road accident requires her leg to be amputated below her knee, Veda’s world and dreams are shattered. 

Determined to get back to dance with a new prosthetic leg, and with the support of a dedicated prosthetist, her family and friends, Veda begins to work towards not just walking but dancing again. 

From learning to walk again, coping with prying questions about her leg, mean comments, rejection by a teacher, adjusting to life as an amputee, relearning everything that came naturally with two legs, the pain of the scar tissue, phantom limb pain, and being put in a ‘beginners’ dance class,  Veda moves on finding inspiration in the pictures and stories of amputee dancers to find the strength to work towards her own goals. She learns to move beyond dancing for external rewards to dancing as a spiritual experience. 

Through lyrical and evocative verse, Padma Venkatraman tells the story of Veda as she navigates her own complex emotions, encounters a host of supporting characters who challenge her and inspire her as she charts her own path. From a Paati (grandmother) who is always there for Veda, her kind and gentle father, her mother who does not support her dreams of being a dancer, yet consoles Veda during a humiliating experience as a dancer and mends their bond, to a kind yet firm dance teacher, a prosthetist on whom she develops a crush and the cute sensitive dancer who is her love interest, her best friend and a rival. The characters highlight the importance of a supportive community in the lives of a disabled person. 

What I loved about the character of Veda was that she was not a sugar coated, two dimensional character that draws sympathy from the reader. Rather she is a very real person with all her emotions and flaws. 

The first person narrative was extremely effective and I found myself going through a range of emotions. The author keeps it real, and her verses which share both Veda’s disbelief, despair, anger and pain… physical and emotional, brought tears to my eyes. 

Themes of passion, resilience, self-belief, determination, self-discovery and the power of art to heal and transform make this book shine. 

A Time to Dance is an absolute 'MUST READ'.

A few examples of the beautiful quotes from this book.

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