genre: middle grade
This is an Indian story, a magical story, about a girl named Parvati who is born with the fire of music inside her. As she grows, the strangest things seem to happen in her presence and soon it is clear that her heart is full of the dance - classical Indian dance and her destiny leads her to a school that can develop her talents.
I always appreciate books that will educate me, introduce me to a world I'm unacquainted with - and while I've read books about India before, the nuances of Indian dance and how deeply threaded it is with both religion and culture were totally new. Parvati is a mild character, confident in her abilities, sensitive to both people and animals and yet, as she comes of age, she begins to have a mind of her own. The idea of destiny is a key component of her world and she has to figure out how to mesh what she wants with what she believes she is destined to do.
While I tried to decide if this was a middle grade or young adult novel, I came across this problem: the romance is too subtle and unfinished for a young adult book and all the unfamiliar Indian terms might be too much for a younger middle-grader, although there is an extensive glossary and pronunciation guide in the back. So, it's rather in-between. Lovers of dance, of Southern Indian culture will appreciate this and not mind that sometimes the plot is slow because of all the rich details that the author includes. For me, I know that parts of it will stick with me but I wasn't blown away.
book 34 for the young adult challenge (since I'd put it on that list :)