Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon


“Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance Studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?”

-Synopsis from StoryGraph


Cover of Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Cover image from StoryGraph

*light spoilers ahead*

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon was one of my Book of the Month picks for June.

I had a pretty good feeling that I would like this book based on how much I enjoyed one of Yoon’s previous books, The Sun is Also a Star. However, I was not prepared for just how hard it would hit me – this book was thoughtful, reflective, emotional, and I would give it ten stars if I could.

As the synopsis alludes, Evie Thomas discovers one day that she is able to see visions of people who are in love and that those visions encompass their entire love story from beginning to end. Her parents have recently gotten divorced and all that she is focused on lately is endings. At the suggestion of a close friend she takes a chance on trying something new and winds up at Le Brea Dance studio where she meets people who will forever change her life.

I don’t want to reveal much more about the story than that. I knew very little about this book going into it, and I think that made the reading experience more enjoyable.

At the surface this may seem like a typical teen contemporary romance but I am here to tell you that it was so much more. Yoon has a way of writing that is so wonderfully beautiful that I am simply in awe of the way she weaves each chapter of this story together. There are certain lines that pack a punch, which I marked as I was reading so that I could go back and read them a second time.

“Happiness is tricky. Sometimes you have to fight for it. Sometimes, though – the best times – it sneaks up behind you, wraps an arm around your waist and pulls you close.”

from Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

I saw many readers highlighting that quote in posts about this book both on StoryGraph and on Instagram. I think it’s a perfect example of the metaphorical writing style that Yoon uses to tell her stories.

Overall I was so impressed with this book. It was as much about relationships, both family, friend and romantic, as it was about changing your worldview in a coming-of-age sense. I think that even though readers may not be fully able to relate to Evie in every way, depending on their life experiences, she is a wonderful character to watch on this particular journey.

“I don’t know why we lose the people we love and how we’re expected to go on after we lose them. But I know that to love is human. We can’t help ourselves. The philosopher-poets say that love is the answer, but it’s more than that. Love is the question and the answer and the reason to ask in the first place. It’s everything. All of it.”

The ending of the book crept up on me in a way that I wasn’t expecting and I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

I can’t recommend this book enough to readers of all ages. I hope it is made into a movie one day!

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