In “Heartbreak and Healing: Lynn Joseph’s Dancing in the Rain” (14 March 2017 Susumba) Robyn Stephenson reviews Lynn Joseph’s Dancing in the Rain (2016). Here are excerpts:
A twelve year old girl who believes she is a mermaid and an eight year old boy far wiser than his years find solace in each other in the aftermath of 9/11. With the feel of a fairy tale and the plot of a documentary, Dancing in the Rain follows the alternating narratives of two Dominican children as they deal with a tragedy that will change their lives forever.
Twelve-year-old Elizabeth lives in a dreamland where hair and waves can be butterflies and where horses dance in the rain. She finds familiarity and succour in nature, frequently escaping her Doña Maria’s house in the Dominican Republic to watch the sea from her backyard. Meanwhile in New York eight-year-old Brandt daydreams over the Hudson River while playing peacemaker with his mother and older brother. Both lives will be overturned in unimaginable ways after the devastating attack on the Twin Towers.
Lynn Joseph has plenty of experience channelling the inner thoughts of young adults: Dancing in the Rain is her third YA novel, and she has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She was also born in Trinidad and so her writing is filled with the mellifluous rhythm characteristic of Caribbean accents. Here and there she drop snatches of the Dominican Republic’s primarily Spanish dialect, evocating a sense of warmth and intimacy without which the story’s landscape would have remained woefully bleak.
From these backgrounds she skilfully recreates the colourful world of the Caribbean and New York with a childlike optimism, bringing the setting to life with descriptive and linguistic flair. Storm clouds are a promise of new seashells for the tide pool, not just a harbinger of doom. Moving to another country is an exciting new adventure, not just a balm for grief. [. . .]