Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dancing With Butterflies, by Reyna Grande

Dancing With Butterflies is Reyna Grande's second novel.  Her first, Across a Hundred Mountains, received the El Premio Aztlán Literary Award in 2006 and an American Book Award in 2007.

Dancing with Butterflies follows the lives of four women who, in very different stages of life, struggle with loss, love, and the true meaning of friendship.  They are all connected through the traditional Mexican dance, Folklórico and the dance company Alegría.

Yesenia, the founder of the Alegría, struggles with an aging body and the loss of her ability to continue her one and only passion.  Sisters Elena and Adriana struggle to find peace with their past and to connect once more, although Elena is mourning the loss of her child, and young, rebellious Adriana is stuck in a repeating cycle of abuse which she experienced as a child.  Soledad, a seamstress and the costume designer for the dance company, wears a large mark on her face which she believes has marked her as one who will never find love.  Also looking for love in all the wrong places, Elena finds herself stranded in Mexico after traveling home to see her ill grandmother.  As an undocumented immigrant, Elena struggles to find her way back home.  All the while, the dance company Alegría, the one thing which bonds all four women, is quickly unravelling.

There is a beautiful, symbolic theme of butterflies throughout the novel which Reyna Grande has incorporated so masterfully in this novel, it almost seems as if the novel grew around this theme.

Also touching are the ethereal drawings (drawn by the author) that grace every new chapter's page.  The drawings themselves are wispy, carefree and joyful like the flight of a monarch butterfly.

Don't miss reading this book, it's a really nice experience!