Monday, July 7, 2014

Review: 101 Ways to Dance by Kathy Stinson

Description: In this quirky collection, award-winning author for young people Kathy Stinson offers characters and plotlines that reflect the many ways teens learn about lust and love. From the first stirrings of same-sex desire on a lakeside beach to troubling paternity questions around a teen pregnancy, 101 Ways to Dance reflects the spectrum of teen sexuality from the very sweet to the very scary.

Stats: Young Adult Short Story Collection, Paperback, 150 pages, Published by Second Story Press, March 2007.

My Rating: 2 STARS

Spoiler Alert: Involves no actual dancing. wink.

101 Ways to Dance is a collection of short stories, sometimes as short as two pages long, that follow various teenagers as they first experience love and lust. With a topic as interesting and varied as that I expected a lot more from 101 Ways to Dance than I got.

While trying to come up with exactly what I should say about this book, I came up with only one comparison. It was a lot like taking a museum tour.

We got to walk through a situation, one of incredibly meaning in a young person's life, but you don't care about the characters. You've known this person for two pages and all you've got to work with is that they're horny. I just couldn't connect and one after another I felt like I was being shown something, something of emotional value, but really it's just a lifeless display behind a thick pane of glass with a sign that says: Warning: Teenagers like sex. To make matters worse, each story felt parred down, like the author was trying to teach me something more so than tell an interesting and in-depth story.

I don't want to be presumptuous and say that teen sexuality has changed all that much in six years, but this book felt like it was written for a different time. For a book written in 2007 it felt surprisingly dated. From the practice of "Call this number if you want a good time", to hitchhiking, to passing around a erotic book with all your friends in school. Although I'm sure these things still happen, for a book about relatability, it just wasn't that relatable when sexuality is so intertwined with the internet and practices like sexting.

It was just a very meh experience overall. The only thing that really clicked for me was the final story All You Need is a Song, which followed two teens who have down syndrome and their own experience with first love. I would have loved to see a novel surrounding just them, but as it was it left me wanting more.

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