December 23, 2011

REVIEW: Chance to Dance for You by Gail Sidonie Sobat

Title: Chance to Dance for You
Auhor(s): Gail Sidonie Sobat
Publisher: Great Plains Teen Fiction
Release Date: May 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 172
Source: Library
Buy: Amazon || The Book Depository


Summary from GR:
Ian lives in a suburb where everything's the same. The houses are the same; the cars are the same; the families are the same; and their aspirations are the same. But Ian is different.

Openly gay in his bigoted high school, Ian doesn’t exactly fit in. But he's not worried— he's been training in dance for a long time and soon he'll be able to leave town and train to become a professional. Then he falls in love with Jess, the high school quarterback.

My Review:

Ian is openly gay. He also happens to live in a suburb so boring and brainwashed with bigotry that he can't go a day without having to wash some asinine comment from his locker's door.

Ian is a dancer. But that just stereotypes him more as the fag, queer, gay-boy.

Ian falls in love...with Jess, the school's most popular and homophobic jock. The last person he should have fallen in love with.

Except maybe Jess' not as homophobic as Ian thinks.

Chance to Dance for You is a funny, and slightly exaggerated, glimpse of what it's like to be a rare out-and-proud teenager. It is also deeply heartbreaking in its truth.

There's just so much I could say about this book. It had its good points and bad points, highs and lows, just like any other book. One good point is that it was an incredibly fast read, a few hours at best. Though it was quick, it was still interesting. I also liked how it was set in Canada. WOOT! Canadian pride~

Ahem, anyhoo, its lows were mostly of the writing variety. I stumbled over some sentences because it had improper grammar or missing punctuation. There was also a moment where “wtf” appeared in a sentence. Not spoken, no. Not capitalized. Not texted either. Just there, in the sentence. And I literally W.T.F-ed almost out loud, right there in the school library. But I digress (which is a phrase used quite often in the novel). The writing wasn't bad, but it was amateur. There was a lot, A LOT, of telling. But somehow, I could ignore it. Maybe because this was meant to portray a normal, albeit gay, teenager. It sure as hell sounded like a teenager.

Since we're on low points, I guess another point I didn't like was the sheer amount of stereotyping. There was much. A few times Ian would pipe up and say this was a stereotype, or that was a stereotype, and it felt as if those things were being called out because it made the author feel better about stereotyping. It was like if she had the character point these things out it would make it okay. It didn't. I just noticed them more. And they were not okay. The suburbs aren't all boring and bigoted. All jocks aren't homophobic trash. Not all big-breasted girls are snobby little ditzes. I didn't like how Ian's dance teacher was stereotypical Russian; has an accent, smokes, and is highly interested in vodka. I mean, really? But this will turn into a rant if I keep on that track, so let's move on.

Another thing I realized is that I don't care much for the side-characters. Usually, I would. Usually, one of the side-characters would be my favourite compared to the protagonist. But in this novel, I didn't quite feel anything for them. This was easily ignored since much of the narration was about Ian and Jess anyway. Speaking of Jess, now we get to the main thing I liked about this novel.

No, Jess is not the main thing I liked about this novel. He's a stinking pile of self-hating feces. He could stay buried and rot in his damn locked closet for all I care. Might sound harsh, but after what he did – or more specifically, didn't do – to Ian, I could care less. Yet, despite my dislike for his cowardly personality, Jess was so realistic. So parallel to people I have met and known. Cowards just like he was. A coward like all humans can be. And that made him so damn frustrating. Which is, I guess, the good point I was trying to get at in all of this. Jess was real. Ian was real. And the only reason I could take all the stereotyping was because it was so true to life. Exaggerated, yes, but it was oh-so-true. Some people actually view the world like this. These things could have happened. These situations are happening. Sometimes when we read a fiction story or watch a movie we say, “Hell, that was just messed up. No one does that in real life.” We think that what has been put down is the worst possible situation someone's twisted mind has come up with. That it doesn't happen for real. But the truth does. It happens. Sometimes, reality is stranger than fiction. Sometimes it's worse. Where do you think the inspiration for these stories come from?

So that's what I like the most about this novel, it has that humour element that I use to look at life, but it also has the deeper and more sorrowful undercurrent that shows us what humans are, and can be, capable of. What one's fear and cowardice can accomplish, and what love and determination can counter.


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