Sing If You Can't Dance
How do you come of age in a body that is old before its time? After a sudden onset and long adjustment period, Ven is answering that question day by day, living with the dynamic complications of chronic illness, and reckoning with the loss of her ability to dance. Luckily, she has other passions. Bossing her A level music group into peak performance, finding gorgeous second hand boots (all the better for bossing in), and the way the new boy’s hair falls just so …
Written in an almost slice-of-life style leading up to the summer music festival Ven’s family runs, Sing If You Can’t Dance explores classic pillars of coming of age narrative; love, friendships, hopes and plans for the future, all in a distinctive, compelling voice. Far from being present only when convenient for plot’s sake, Ven’s experience is faithfully rendered through a constant, often visceral, bodily lens, with occasional detailed asides that are affirming in their familiarity for chronically ill young people, and equal parts eye opening and immersive for the able bodied reader.
Ven herself is the book’s greatest strength, a straight shooter in a skate around world, whose portrayal balances a determined, practical, take-charge personality with the vulnerability, grief, and fear that accompanies a loss of mobility. If you thought the fourth wall would protect you from the unstoppable force of Ven, think twice. Ven doesn’t care one way or the other whether you like her. But you will.