Book Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Posted June 6, 2021 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Instructions for Dancing by Nicola YoonInstructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Published by Random House Children's Books on June 1, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley

This one got me… on multiple levels. Look, I walked into this book ready for a romance. I walked away from this book with a new philosophy on life. No, I am not being dramatic. Nicola Yoon literally had me looking at life differently after I finished the book. I had to pause and sit for a bit before I wrote this review of Instructions for Dancing.

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Zoltar & Visions of Love

First, yes, there is romance. But honestly, it felt like romance is the side character. The main attraction of this book is actually the grief the main character, Evie, is working through after the divorce of her parents. She catches her dad in the act of cheating and her world is blown away because of it. A girl, in her senior year, who loved reading romance novels so much that she has them categorized, is thrown into a state of disillusionment. What is the point of love if it always ends in heartbreak? 

Enter, a random book on dancing instruction from a little free library and a mysterious lady ala Zoltar in the Tom Hanks movie Big. Now our MC suddenly has the power to see the beginning, middle and end of a couple’s love story just by seeing them kiss. When she arrives home, she is affronted by a vision of her little sister’s entire love story with her current boyfriend, including their break up and wonders why on earth she has been given this “gift”. As she tries to return the book to its owner, the plot thickens and we are introduced to the dance studio and a young man who will be her love interest X. His grandparents own the dance studio and that is how the young couple meet. 

“Sometimes I wish there were a weather forecast for your life: Tomorrow’s forecast is for routine high school shenanigans in the morning, but with dramatic parental betrayal by late afternoon, ending with wild emotional despair by nightfall. Details after the next commercial break.”

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Watch Out for That Tango

Evie and X’s relationship had some interesting pacing. Evie drags her feet at times and then at other times she speeds it up to almost instalove speed. But Evie and X balance each other out and have a positive effect on each other’s decision-making as they navigate big moments in their lives. X is a musician who has dropped out of high school while he deals with his own grief of losing one of his best friends.

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Get Your Tissues Ready

Warning, there is a 90% chance you will cry at the end of this book. It’s okay, it will be worth it. Don’t skip the Acknowledgements and the Letter from the author at the end. It will provide the context you need after you are done drying your eyes. 


If you are looking for a read to start your summer off with, I definitely recommend this book. Oh and support your local Little Free Library. You never know what you might walk away with…

Would I Read it Again: Yes! Also, I’d like to put in a bid for another movie request please!!!

Recommendations: This was a book about healing, living and loving. It has universality that makes it a good match for anyone who loves romance as well as anyone dealing with betrayal or disappointment. So if romance isn’t your thing, I would still recommend giving this a try.

Educator Suggestions: Any teacher who put this in their classroom library will most likely have to replace it by the end of the year. For those wondering if it’s “clean romance”, yes it is. Sex is implied to occur at one point in the book, but doesn’t happen on the page. Creative Writing Teachers try this: have kids read this book, then let them choose a movie like Nicola Yoon did with Big and incorporate elements of that into a short story. This is a great opportunity to flex writing muscles with a write alike. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this digital arc in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

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