Wednesday, 20 August 2014

"Dancing in the Dark" by P.R. Prendergast | Review

SOURCE: Borrowed from Katrina (Chased By My Imagination)
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Dancing in the Dark
AUTHOR: P.R. Prendergast
PAGES: 183


Things haven't been easy for Jessie since her brother James - sports star and popular kid - died. Her mum and dad are lost in grief and she's feeling isolated at school; when the girls on her dance team give her a hard time, she just can't seem to remember the routines...

... and Jessie can still see James. Talk to him, or quarrel with him, more like! They always bickered when James was a live, so why change now?

But James might turn out to be her unlikely saviour. Along with Alan, the dorky new boy, can he give Jessie the confidence to show the rest of the dance team what she's got... and help her and her parents on the road towards healing?

I wasn't expecting great things from this book if I'm honest. My sister picked it up for a pound while she was on holiday, so that we could both use it for a Bookish Bingo entry. I felt the story might be quite sad, but wasn't expecting great writing style, particularly as the book states it is children's fiction. I was expecting it to be quite simple and straightforward, and with that in mind I was also expecting it to be an easy read.

The book opens with the narrator, Jessie, discussing James appearing to her. She states "when I say appears, I mean appears". I found that this immediate introduction into her situation was very clear and to the point, although (as suspected) it was quite simple. 
I wouldn't say the opening is the most captivating opening I've ever read, but I was perfectly content with being given all of the information without having to do any guessing.

Jessie, the narrator, is a pretty easy character to understand most of the time. There's a definite sense of grief throughout the novel, although during some stages of the book she does seem exceptionally selfish. I wasn't really surprised by this character flaw because her brother appears to be the person that everyone loves. I wouldn't say she was brushed aside a child but if I were to pick which child her parents preferred, I'd choose James.
I found James to be quite an endearing character, although he had an annoying tendency to just disappear. He was full of great advice and I could tell that he was trying to help her throughout the who novel which was nice to see.
Alan was simply adorable, even though he was irritating at times. The way Jessie treated him was a little unnecessary at some points in the book, particularly as she discusses feeling isolation from the crowd a lot throughout the story, and then proceeds to isolate Alan.

This book was mainly set in a school, a very relateable place in my opinion. Although some of what was being said wasn't entirely realistic, there were lots of things I felt I understood well, having spent over half of my life in a school environment. 

I gave the book a solid 3 stars because I actually did enjoy it. As suspected, it was simple and straightforward, but given the target audience I felt that was required. I liked the story and did get a little emotional towards the end - a sure sign that I'd made some sort of connection with the characters!


  1. Wow, the cover for that book is really beautiful. I love the white girl dancing on the front :) I am glad that you managed to like it for what it is, but then if it is child fiction it's understandable that it is simple and all.

    1. Very true indeed! I'm glad I read it though, don't think I'd read it again in a hurry but I think it's worth giving everything a go :)