Monday, December 3, 2018

[Mrs Y Reviews] Dancing At Midnight: The Life of June Parker by Rebecca Yelland

Bookcover Via
Everyone has five senses that they are familiar with, and everyone has emotions they are familiar with. Regarding emotion, most consider happiness or anger to be in the top, while some look toward fear or disgust, perhaps even sadness. There is an entire movie that embraces literal emotions and goes into how they complement and enhance each other by Pixar and Disney. This review is not about that movie. Instead, this review is about a book that chose sadness as a theme and turned it into something magical. That’s right everyone, get your Mr. Bunny and hug him tight, make sure you don’t upset Mrs. Claxton because I am about to review “Dancing at Midnight The Life of June Parker” by Rebecca Yelland. 

First and foremost, I follow Rebecca Yelland on Twitter and I consider her to be a lovely human being. She’s funny, she’s quirky, and she has this thing about Photoshop I find charming. However, that said, this review is an honest review regardless of how I feel about her. To ensure it as such, I purchased her book, and I decided to get cozy and read the little writing baby she had written. “Dancing at Midnight” is a story of sadness in a world of happiness and joy. Now, some may say “I do not want to read a sad book,” To which I would like to remind any dissenters’ on sadness, “Titanic” was a sad movie, Mozart’s “Lacrimosa” was a sad symphony, and “Gone with the Wind” was also a sad book. Though they were sad, they were profound to their genre and the culture around at the time. 

Sadness is the delicate emotion that makes happiness brighter, or anger burn more, or even brings greed to its most ugly of heads. Sadness is like lace in many ways. Lace is a textile that isn’t exactly the most necessary things to make clothes. However, when someone adds a bit of lace, the overall presentation of the item is better and becomes classier. From lace doilies on a coffee table, to lace trimming on a judge’s gown, lace adds this tiny bit of taste to something that may not have had it. That’s what Sadness does when mixed with joy and happiness, and I can say that Rebecca took sadness as a theme and painted beautifully a manuscript that comes alive. 

With the backdrop so expertly chosen, Rebecca takes us on a journey a grown daughter discovering the truth of a mother she never understood despite being her child. Moreover, in that truth, we find that the woman who was so guarded at the end lived a life that was unprecedented. I’ve never heard of a mom with such a battle in her life before, but I can say this one did well consider all she was facing. I know that I could never be the woman that our protagonist is should I have similar circumstances. She is incredible, and the story the reader is treated to is both believable and tasteful. The tale itself is like a candle in a dark room on a stormy day, it just enough glows to let the light in, but not enough to remove the chill of rain outside. 

As far as pacing, tension, and story structure, Rebecca drives the story along very well. The pacing is lovely; I was not bored. The tension was incredible despite the pacing and placed strategically. There is almost borderline too much tension in some cases, but it’s not distracting. Thankfully, Rebecca does ease off of the gas in strategic places so the reader can catch your breath again. No sooner do you think you are going to coast, when she slams her foot back down on the pedal and boom, you’re driving into tension town again. The story structure is following a rare character arch which I will not spoil, and was clearly chosen for the protagonist to treat the reader to a change of pace. 

As far as anything intensely graphic such as violence or sex in the novel, there wasn’t any sex but, there were graphic scenes of violence and trauma. Specifically, there was an elaborate scene involving bugs; if you do not like bugs, I’d recommend skimming through it. I had the heebie geebies all day after reading it, and I still think about it. I’m not a fan of bugs. Thankfully, that is about it when it comes to graphic parts. While there are other intense situations mentioned, they are not graphically forced upon the reader in any distasteful way, which is lovely. I can’t tell you how welcoming it is to see tasteful but tension-filled scenes that deal with the painful subject matter.

There is also one very major thing that I want to say about this book, and that is it’s written to help someone with grieving and understanding. I lost my father a couple of years ago. When he died, and though we had an excellent relationship with him, I realized not all parents and kids do. While I know, he and I hashed everything out because we had a good relationship, my siblings didn’t have the same relationships with him. “Dancing At Midnight” is a book that speaks on coming to terms with your parents, just as much as coming to terms with the act of parenting. Not everyone can grieve and know they said all they needed to mention before that final moment your loved one is gone. So if anything, this story pounds a nail on the banner “Say what you have to say at the moment, before it is too late” and I love that about this book. 

My critiques are small. Essentially, if you are in the mood for something uplifting and chipper, this may not be the book for you at the time. That basically is my critique. I found no story structure issues, I found one very minor typo, and basically, my critique is that this isn’t a book for everyone. But, if you need something to make your day better overall, I would recommend “Dancing at Midnight” with a big cup of coffee or tea and ease into a book. 

What do you score a book that has such bitter-sweet notes? It’s not frightening; it’s not an evil book and nothing like what I’ve been reading lately. It left me shaken and left me feeling good at the same time. After reviewing my scores, 

I’m giving “Dancing at Midnight” a 95 out of 100. That’s a 5-star review on Amazon and Goodreads.