This warm, nuanced, hilarious story about friendship, fortitude . . . and dancing is impossible not to fall in love with. Jenny’s voice is fresh and convincing, and she handles both darker and lighter elements of the story with equal panache.
"Though she be but little, she is fierce."
Sometimes a book will land in my mailbox for review that under normal circumstances I don't think I would have picked up to read since my TBR list is so incredibly long. And what a shame that would be, because I've discovered some real gems that I would not have had the pleasure of reading otherwise. Flirty Dancing is one of those such books. It is such a cute, fun read. But there are also some deeper undertones to the story, that make this so much more than what I expected at first glance.
Bea Hogg comes across as a shy, reserved girl. She is bullied and taunted by Pearl, the popular girl at school, so is lacking in a lot of friends or the confidence to stand up for herself. But underneath that shyness is a girl who knows what she wants. A girl who has dreams and opinions. When the opportunity arises to compete in a dance competition, Bea has visions of her and her best friend competing together. Unfortunately the best friend decides to join Pearls dance group instead. So Bea's Nan comes to the rescue. She signs Bea up to partner the school hottie Ollie Matthews. Bea is nervous, but so excited. There's only one problem. Ollie is Pearl's boyfriend, and Bea is pretty sure that Pearl will be anything but happy about this turn of events.
I couldn't help but continually visualize Dancing with the Stars while I was reading this. Only with teens. It was just so cool. Camera's, lights... I cannot dance. At all. So to get swept away in the buzz of practising and the glamour of performing in front of the cameras was such a thrill.
Together we leave the gloom of backstage and emerge into dazzling lights, swinging into a perfect close hold in the centre of the stage. Blackness and stars surround us. The audience is silent, waiting. Our eyes lock, something we've rehearsed, and Ollie says, quietly, but perfectly clearly, "Be fierce, Bea."
I loved Bea and Ollie together. They seemed to click and fit so well almost immediately. Ollie was just so sweet and confident, and he looked out for Bea without ever making a big deal about it. That's just the type of person that he is. I love books where the characters develop a friendship and a real and true liking for each other before the big romance, and that's exactly what I got here.
I also love when support characters have personality and zest. When they really, truly add something to the story. And I think I would have to say that that was the case with almost everyone of the support characters in this book. One of the standouts for me in Flirty Dancing was Bea's Nan. She was hilarious, comforting, protective, and loving. She was there to support and boost Bea's confidence. She had me laughing big huge belly laughs on so many occasions. As did Bea's little sister. I think she almost stole every scene she was in.
Who cares what happens at school tomorrow? Right now, I have a staring role in my life... and I love it!
Bea goes through a wonderful growth during the story, as she discovers herself and learns that she is worthy of standing up for herself and being treated with respect. One of the main reasons for this is the wonderful people that she has around her. Such a beautiful and supportive family and a wonderful friendship with Ollie.
Even though Flirty Dancing dealt with some deeper subjects, it was just written so lightly and with so much fun that I'm pretty sure the huge smile I was wearing very rarely left my face for the whole book. If you're after something fun and cute and flirty, then I suggest you pick yourself up a copy of Flirty Dancing. Today!!
4/5 Fun and Flirty Stars.
A huge thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing me with this copy for review.