Instructions for dancing: A cute cliche

Kelly Gildea, Literature Review Editor

Nicola Yoon’s Instructions for Dancing follows Evie Thomas as she grows from a stubborn, cynical teenager into an ambitious, loving woman. Evie, who hasn’t believed in love since she caught her father cheating on her mother, is suddenly given the power to see how any relationship will end – an ill-timed curse. However, despite her belief that love will only lead to heartbreak, she finds herself falling for her dance partner, Xavier (X), which changes her life and perspective forever.

The book was very well-written and fast-paced. Although the plot was mostly cliché and predictable, there were several profound moments and plot twists that I really enjoyed. I got through the book fairly quickly, as the writing was easy to read and flowed very well. The author established various plot points and subplots, which I felt kept me engaged. Due to the fact that Evie and X compete in a dance competition, fall in love, and face both personal and familial struggles throughout the novel, there is never a dull moment in the book.

Yoon also weaves her complex story with lots of character development. Evie’s growth throughout the novel, mostly shown by her gradual acceptance of love into her life, is both satisfying and inspiring to watch. Her journey is the focus of the novel, and it makes for an engaging and powerful read. Evie’s strength, intelligence, and ambition make her a great protagonist, especially for a book geared towards young adult audiences who often look up to book characters as role models.  

Overall, Yoon dealt with various complex themes and an engaging and interesting romance, which was woven into one very good novel. The book’s character development, realistic world-building, and fast-paced style make it an excellent read. However, the very beginning of the book does start off slowly, and Evie comes off as obnoxious and is sometimes hard to root for. But, as readers delve into her life and her relationship with her family and her friends, she becomes a character who the readers can sympathize with even if they do not always agree with her actions. Furthermore, Evie’s “love interest,” X, was lacking in character. Although he did have a well-written backstory and added entertainment to the novel, I would have liked to see more of his growth and personality rather than the superficial picture of him that Yoon painted. 

Instructions for Dancing may not have been life-changing, but it was still a cute and enjoyable romance. More than anything, it portrays a journey during which the main character learns acceptance, experiences growth, and finds the courage to love. Evie’s notable shift in perspective on the importance and worth of love throughout the novel makes the book an emotional and moving read.