Padma Venkatraman’s inspiring story of a young girl’s struggle to regain her passion and find a new peace is told lyrically through verse that captures the beauty and mystery of India and the ancient bharatanatyam dance form. This is a stunning novel about spiritual awakening, the power of art, and above all, the courage and resilience of the human spirit.
Veda, a classical dance prodigy in India, lives and breathes dance—so when an accident leaves her a below-knee amputee, her dreams are shattered. For a girl who’s grown used to receiving applause for her dance prowess and flexibility, adjusting to a prosthetic leg is painful and humbling. But Veda refuses to let her disability rob her of her dreams, and she starts all over again, taking beginner classes with the youngest dancers. Then Veda meets Govinda, a young man who approaches dance as a spiritual pursuit. As their relationship deepens, Veda reconnects with the world around her, and begins to discover who she is and what dance truly means to her.
This was actually the first book I have read that was structured like a poem in verses and still had a story plot like a regular book and I really enjoyed it.
The book is about a girl called Veda, who has always loved dancing, especially the Indian dance called bharatanatyam. She danced until she won a bharatanatyam competition. However, soon after, she lost a leg due to an accident and her old dance teacher refused to teach her because he believed that Veda could never dance again.
This book was beautifully written. At first I was really curious how the story will still be told in an efficient manner so that the actions and plot are still conveyed to the reader, but it worked out really well in this book. The verse and lyrical style of this book also really matched the theme of this book. That was also really enjoyable. I loved how the author tackled the heavy topic of spirituality, religion and finding oneself. The theme itself was already very interesting; it was great to read about the importance of religion to a person. In this case the book focused on the religious dance. For Veda, dance became less about the religious meaning and more about the fame she was going to receive at the start of the book. I loved how more of the religious meaning of the dance came back to Veda as the book progressed and that she realized that dance wasn't about winning or losing; it was about the meaning and spirituality behind it.
The verses were a new writing style for me but I really enjoyed it in this case. The verses helped to make certain phrases in the book stand out and gave some sentences a heavier meaning. This style also worked really well with the writing style of the book. Even though the end of the sentences didn't rhyme, the story was still told using a lot of poetic devices, which made it really unique and still gave me the feeling of reading and not really reading a poem. Despite that, I found the beginning kind of shaky, meaning that the verse-like writing just didn't really work out that well, but that is probably just me not being used to it yet.
The amount of character development that took place in this book is remarkable. Veda went from dancing for the applause to finding the real meaning of dance. While she did that, she lost her anger and spite she still had leftover from when she lost her leg. It was great to see her mature in that way. It was also kind of sneaky, how the author incorporated a kind of love triangle into this book. (And personally, I was happy with the outcome.)
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The lyrical writing style took some time for me to get used to, but the rest of the book flowed by really quickly. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars!