cover image Dancing in the Dark

Dancing in the Dark

Robyn Bavati. Flux, $9.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7387-3477-4

In a subtle first novel about familial loyalties and individuality, 12-year-old Ditty has never questioned the strict teachings of her ultra-orthodox Jewish community, the Haredi; she knows her path in life leads to marriage. But when Ditty and her best friend Sarah find a (forbidden) TV hidden in Sarah's mother's closet, Ditty discovers ballet and is hooked: "Here was a power I had never seen before, a kind of haunting loveliness I had never imagined." With help, Ditty enrolls in dance classes and turns out to be quite gifted, rising in the ranks over the years, while wrestling with the conflict between her upbringing and her passion for dance. Set in Australia and filled with details about the Haredi, the novel moves slowly toward the inevitable confrontation when Ditty's parents discover her secret. The narrative is further enriched by the choices made by Sarah and Linda, as they navigate their own lives within the context of faith. It's an intriguing glimpse into a singular culture; the persuasive depiction of Ditty's internal conflicts distinguishes Bavati's debut. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. Agent: Bob Diforio, D4EO Literary Agency. (Feb.)