Disclaimer: I’m a fan of Padma Venkatraman’s books. Each one has charmed me. I know I can always expect a reading experience unlike any I’ve had before. Her new book does not disappoint.
In A Time to Dance, teenaged Veda has already dedicated her life to dance, much to her mother’s frustration. Her mother expects that Veda will study hard, become an engineer, make a good living for herself, and never worry about money again. With her father and grandmother’s support, Veda studies Bharatanatyam dance, competing and receiving adulation when she wins. Her satisfaction is short-lived. A horrific accident takes the lower part of her right leg and dance is seemingly a part of her past.
Not so fast. The book realistically portrays Veda’s grief, terror, and anger over the loss of a limb. A young doctor is determined to fit her with a prosthetic leg that will enable her to dance once again. Veda is equally determined to do just that, even though the Bharatanatyam dance form is complicated and demanding and her goals seem impossible to achieve.
It’s a book about many things: faith, friendship, family, young love, strength of conviction, feelings that rollercoaster realistically from despair to leaping joy. The sensory details pulled me deeply into the story as only a master storyteller can. A Time to Dance is set in India and Shiva is at the center of Veda’s faith. By accompanying Veda on her journey, we can’t help but look at our own beliefs, our strengths, the areas in which we can make higher leaps, learning to bring the audience in our lives to tears because we have expressed understanding and compassion.
As with all of Ms. Venkatraman’s books, I closed the covers reluctantly, knowing that A Time to Dance is a book that has become a part of me, one I will always remember.
(Note: My review of this book is based on an Advanced Readers Copy I received from the publisher.)