Evie used to believe in love. She has bookshelves full of romance novels to prove it. But she’s recently realized just how naive she’s been. After all, her father’s affair and her parents’ subsequent divorce are irrefutable evidence that, in real life, love stories always end in heartbreak.
When Evie tries to get rid of her romance novel collection, a strange encounter leaves her with two things: the address for the La Brea Dance Studio and unnerving visions of exactly how other couples’ love stories will end. As Evie tries to discover the source of her visions, she makes her way to the dance studio, where she finds herself entering a ballroom dance competition with a boy named X. Despite her best efforts and better judgment, Evie begins to fall for X, and her growing feelings for him prompt her to wonder whether love is such a terrible idea after all.
Nicola Yoon’s Instructions for Dancing will break readers’ hearts and put them back together again several times. Evie and X are both healing from their own tragedies while also balancing family expectations with their personal needs and desires. Teen readers will relate to the authentic and sometimes messy way they navigate these journeys.
Excellently developed secondary characters add richness and depth to Evie’s experiences as she tries to reconcile her cynicism with her undeniable feelings for X—all while dealing with the new configuration of her family and her unwelcome visions of heartbreak. Evie’s “best friend forever,” Martin, encourages her to work out what’s causing her visions even as he struggles to work up the courage to ask out Evie’s sister, Danica. Meanwhile, Cassidy and Sophie (Evie’s “other best friend forever” and her “other other best friend forever”) navigate their new romantic relationship with each other. Both romances fuel Evie’s cynicism but remind her how happy relationships can be. Evie’s parents do their best to protect their daughters from the fallout of their divorce, making it clear that adults don’t always get it right, even when they have the best intentions.
Yoon delivers this captivating story of first love with beautiful prose, clever dialogue that swings between laugh-out-loud funny and wildly insightful, clear respect for the complexity and nuance of her teen characters’ perspectives and emotions—and just enough magic to make it all truly unforgettable.