Tuesday, October 4, 2016

ARC Review: Enjoy the Dance by Heidi Cullinan

From The Blurb:
Dance with your heart, and love will follow. 
Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez. 
Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all. 
But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

Karen's rating:

Dear Author...did you know that when you make me cry...

it's harder for me to read. I was ok for most of this book but it was probably somewhere around the last 25 to 30% that I found myself crying...a lot. Some of my tears were happy tears but there were quite a few sad tears too.

So now that you know how the last part of the book went for me...let's go back to the beginning and see if I can explain to you where and how those tears came to be...

I was a tiny bit hesitant with this one because I saw a couple of reviews that mentioned that this one was 'very political' and the romance played second fiddle to the political and social justice issues (that's right Dani and Jewel, I'ma lookin' at you) and honestly this is all very true and I have to admit sometimes I don't always want things like this in what I'm reading because lately it seems that the evening news has been more than willing to show us the sad and oftentimes tragic results of man's inhumanity to man.

That not everyone shares the same basic rights and freedoms because of sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or any one of the myriad of reasons that we hear pranced out to justify the bigotry of others is something that I, like so many others, am well aware of but knowing in advance that this was the case I decided I was going to plunge in anyways because it's Heidi Cullinan and it's the next book in her series 'Dancing' and I really, really loved the first book.

What I found was a story that wrapped itself around my heart. A story that reminded me of what is true and important...
"...The family we make is as valid as the family we're born to. Sometimes it's a thousand times better."
Spenser is a teacher and he arrives home to find a very battered young man named Duon at his door. A young man who is actually waiting for Spenser's neighbor, Tomas. Spenser takes him in without hesitations and looks after him until Tomas arrives home. He sees himself in Duon and without giving it a second thought, he offers to give Duon a home. Tomas wouldn't hesitate to do the same for Duon, if it wasn't for the fact that he's already got his hands full with his own family who depend on him for so much. Tomas can't afford to have his family fall under scrutiny at least not until he can figure out a way to keep his parents in Minnesota with him where they belong. So Duon ends up staying with Spenser but Tomas is determined to help with him as much as possible and it's that determination that helps Tomas find his way past Spenser's carefully constructed barriers. 

The list of what I liked about this book is pretty much endless. Of course I liked...no scrap that I loved both Spenser and Tomas. I liked Duon. Sure he tried to play it cool and make like it was no big deal but having someone like Spenser step up when he needed them and put their faith and trust in him was definitely a bit deal and Duon knew this no matter how cool he tried to play things. Tomas's parents especially his mother were wonderful as were so many of the other secondary characters in this story.

While the first part of this book focused very much on the political and social issues that affected Spenser, Tomas and the people they cared about. I felt that not only was this relevant information but it connected and impacted so much of what happened and what was done as the story progressed.

As I continued to read I realized just how much these issues were connected to the story...to everyone's story. From Spenser and Tomas to Ed and Laurie and this is where I began to cry...I admit I am a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) I'm heterosexual and I'm Canadian. So I will never know what it's like to fear that someone I love will be taken from me because they weren't born here, I will never have someone tell me that being married to the person I love isn't legal in the eyes of the law or god, I will never be beaten or abused for being who I am. I am lucky...privileged and yes, I do appreciate the fact that while I did nothing to earn or deserve this, it is the life I was given. It is also the reason that this book broke my heart and made me cry because it was a reminder that the life I was given is the life that everyone deserves. 

'Enjoy the Dance' is a book with a very important message about life, about love, about the human spirit and it's ability to rise above whatever the world will throw at it and still dance...
"There's no guarantee in life of anything. Every second is precious. Every breath is a miracle. Every connection is a gift, each drop of joy a treasure..." 

An ARC of 'Enjoy the Dance' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Buy this book:

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-enjoythedance-2095227-145.html https://store.kobobooks.com/en-ca/ebook/enjoy-the-dance https://www.amazon.com/Enjoy-Dance-Dancing-Book-2-ebook/dp/B01KVVFRM8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475456586&sr=8-1&keywords=enjoy+the+dance http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/enjoy-the-dance-heidi-cullinan/1124441465?ean=2940153337104

Reading gives us someplace to go, when we have to stay where we are.  (Mason Cooley)

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