Monday, January 18, 2016

I Hope You Dance by Beth Moran

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Moran has given us another well crafted story that includes humor, suspense, romance, and wonderful character transformation.

The novel centers around Ruth. Her partner, they had never decided to actually marry, had unexpectedly died eighteen months ago. He had left her and their teen-aged daughter with a mountain of debt. Ruth decides to move back home. She knows that will not be easy. She was a tomboy in a family of dancers and had disappointed her parents. Her only future is to go back and face her troubled past.

While the story line is great and worth reading the novel on its own, the characters are what make this novel stand out. Ruth is despondent when she returns home. Her mother, a busy woman doing good for everyone in the village, tries to lift Ruth back to the realm of actually living life. Her father, from whom she's been alienated for years, is being enticed by the friendship of a woman he met at a senior center activity. Her sisters are gregarious mothers who continue to point out Ruth's failures. Ruth's daughter, Maggie, is a fourteen year old suffering a world of hurt and acting out to show it. I loved how Ruth muddled her way through this swamp of problems.

Ruth's support characters are delightful. Ruth gets included in a group of women, each of whom is an unusual character. There are childhood friends willing to help Ruth live through this hard time. There's a new woman, rising above her childhood surroundings of violence and poverty to make a new life. The relationship these women have is amazing. Listening to their prayers is a theological education. Observing their interaction is a lesson on the true meaning of friendship and encouragement.

But the characters in this novel are not all friends and hugs. There is a sinister element included when Ruth is stalked. That added the reality of Ruth's situation and her being vulnerable to the attentions of the wrong man.

Along with great characters and creepy suspense is the theme of troubled romance. Ruth's parents are going through a tense time, her father being sidetracked by another woman and her mother not knowing how to handle it. Maggie is in the midst of a teenage infatuation with a foster teen who may, or may not, be turning his life around. And Ruth herself must deal with her feelings about David, her childhood best friend. There might be hope of a renewed romance except that Maggie is totally opposed to her mother even thinking about replacing her dad.

I loved this book. There were great characters all around. It was amazing to see how they developed through the experiences in the novel, even the crotchety old woman Maggie must visit as part of her school discipline. There was humor that made me laugh out loud. There was the support of godly women and an active church. There was suspense that made me cringe. There was the possibility of romance that made me hope for the future. This is an entertaining and rewarding novel I highly recommend.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

Beth Moran lives in Nottingham with her husband and their three children. When she's not writing, she helps with a women's network. You can find out more at http://www.bethmoran.org/.

Lion Fiction, distributed in the U.S. By Kregel Publications, 380 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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