Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Dance for Three by Louise Plummer

Published in 2000. 230 pages.

First sentence: Milo wasn't the first boy to kiss me but he was the first one to bite me.

Basic premise of the book: When fifteen-year-old Hannah Ziebarth discovers she's pregnant by her boyfriend Milo, she believes that everything will be all right. But her pregnancy isn't the only difficulty in her life: she and her mother are still trying to come to terms with her father's unexpected death, and Mrs. Ziebarth's response has been to withdraw into her bonsai plants, never leaving their home, not even capable of making her own sandwich for lunch. From the back cover: "Louise Plummer tells Hannah's powerful story from three perspectives in this tale of loss, recovery, and self-discovery." In addition to Hannah's perspective, we hear from Hannah's best friend Trilby and from Milo's younger brother Roman.

What I thought of the book:
I wanted to absolutely love this book! I've read all of Plummer's previous young adult novels and enjoyed them all, especially The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman. This one had great potential - but while I did like it and do recommend it, I finished the book feeling somewhat disappointed that it didn't live up to my expectations. One disappointment relates to the "three perspectives" of the story. Roman's perspective in particular was too limited to fulfill its promise.

The meaning of the title: When I first picked up this book, I expected that the "dance for three" related to the main character, her baby, and the baby's father. There is that, of course, but the symbolism goes beyond that. There are the three perspectives of the novel - not just Hannah's voice, but the voices of two other people peripherally affected by Hannah's pregnancy. There is also the "dance for three" of Hannah and her parents, a dance that affects everything that happens after Mr. Ziebarth's death. Finally, the actual words of the title come into the story as Hannah watches a baby and its parents at an outdoor concert she attends during her pregnancy; this "dance for three" helps Hannah decide what she wants for her life and for her baby.

Personal connection to the book: In some sense this book is about "my people." The book is set in Salt Lake City, near where I live. Hannah and her mother belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), as I do, and although there is no discussion of their religious beliefs and little about their involvement in their congregation, their concerned bishop plays a pivotal role in the outcome of the story.

Recognition given to the book: A Dance for Three was an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults in 2001; the entire list is here. It also received the 2001 Association for Mormon Letters (AML) Award for Young Adult Literature; there is a nice review on the AML website (here).


1 comment:

  1. This one sounds interesting. Isn't Louise Plummer a professor at BYU?