Book Review: Dancing At Midnight by Rebecca Graves

Dancing At Midnight is the heartbreaking tale of a Carolyn, a young woman who comes home to deal with the death of her mother, June Parker – and the estate she has left behind – only to discover the painful, untold truth about her June’s early life.

This is very different from what I usually read – but I stepped into it with an open mind and eager eyes. I prefer to read thrillers, horror, Sci-Fi and fantasy, and the mystery of what could have happened to June during her early years that would have been so terrifying, awful, and painful that not even her own daughter knew about it until after her death, hooked me from even before page one.

The book starts off with Carolyn coming home, and very quickly jumps back in time to her mother’s childhood, after Carolyn finds June old diaries. June’s early years are sweet, but full of hardship and burdens, and after her father leaves her and her mother behind, June’s difficulties begin in earnest. She ends up in a home shortly after, when her mother’s realizes she can’t care for young June all alone, and June has to fend for herself.

The story of June is a beautiful but troublesome one, full of loss, grief, loneliness and anger, but it’s also a sweet one, full of friendships, love, hope and happiness. The writing is delicate and nuanced, yet fast-paced and to the point. It strung me along through every twist and turn, around every bend, and over every hump. The book is interspersed with short chapters where we go back to Carolyn, following a long as she reads about her mother, and in many ways it felt like I, the reader, had the exact same experience. At the end, I was left surprised.

I felt sometimes that some parts of the book were brushed over – June would find herself in trouble, only for it to be sorted out in the next instant. In this way it was as if some of that darkness lost its effect – I got a sense of feeling like any one conflict would never remain for too long. Of course, not long after, June would find herself in trouble again, and that’s how her life went on until she grew up – and maybe it was this constant swinging between ups and downs that was the real struggle all along.

The ending brought it all together though. Like I said – I don’t usually read this kind of romantic drama, but I have to say it paid off. The ending is… bitter-sweet, but it’s sweet. If you’re into mysterious family dramas, tragic love stories, and bitter-sweet romances, then this is definitely a book for you. I like trying out new things, and reading this book surprised me.

When was the last time you read something out of your normal genre? Do you prefer to stick to your favorites, or do you look for things to surprise yourself with? Let me know in the comments!

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