Pretending to Dance
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Pretending to Dance

4.6 16
by Diane Chamberlain
     
 

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Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at

Overview

Molly Arnette is very good at keeping secrets. She and her husband live in San Diego, where they hope to soon adopt a baby. But the process terrifies her.

As the questions and background checks come one after another, Molly worries that the truth she's kept hidden about her North Carolina childhood will rise to the surface and destroy not only her chance at adoption, but her marriage as well. She ran away from her family twenty years ago after a shocking event left her devastated and distrustful of those she loved: Her mother, the woman who raised her and who Molly says is dead but is very much alive. Her birth mother, whose mysterious presence raised so many issues. The father she adored, whose death sent her running from the small community of Morrison Ridge.

Now, as she tries to find a way to make peace with her past and embrace a future filled with promise, she discovers that even she doesn't know the truth of what happened in her family of pretenders.

Told with Diane Chamberlain's compelling prose and gift for deft exploration of the human heart, Pretending to Dance is an exploration of family, lies, and the complexities of both.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Pretending to Dance is a multilayered, poignant novel. Chamberlain writes knowledgeably about seeing a family member confront a degenerative illness, the power of therapy, and the hardship of loss. Reminiscent of a Sarah Dessen or Sharon Creech novel, Pretending to Dance proves that a coming-of-age story can happen at any time in your life." —Booklist on Pretending to Dance

"A book rich in relatable characters and moving scenes, this stunning tale will linger with readers long after the last page." —RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick) on Pretending to Dance

“While the family argues and Molly’s hormones run wild, something else is going on that will make for the explosive revelation at novel’s end.” —Kirkus Reviews on Pretending to Dance

"Very well developed characters who are so real you want to reach out and hug them." —Fiction Addiction on Pretending to Dance

"A gripping story." —Woman and Home on Pretending to Dance

“Diane Chamberlain’s insight as a former social worker and psychotherapist is evident in her writing, adding emotion and depth to complex family dynamics. . . You may need tissues.” —The Eclectic Reader on Pretending to Dance

“A tightly plotted mystery with well drawn characters.” —The Books Lover’s Best Friend on Pretending to Dance

“This book seamlessly flowed between past and present to create a story that was sad, yet heartwarming and ultimately the story of one girl’s triumphant life.” —Comfy Reading on Pretending to Dance

“Chamberlain has written an excellent novel with well-thought-out plotlines that never lose the suspense lover's interest for one solitary second.” —Suspense Magazine on The Silent Sister

“Chamberlain's powerful story is a page-turner to the very end.” —Library Journal on The Silent Sister

“Compulsively readable.” —Kirkus Reviews on The Silent Sister

“A story of redemption, paranoia, and the power of shared bonds, The Silent Sister is a powerful and thrilling novel...Tautly paced and emotionally driven.” —Booklist on The Silent Sister

“Hard to put down.” —Better Homes & Gardens on The Silent Sister

“A tense story with plenty of twists...Riley's world gets rocked and the readers' will be too.” —The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on The Silent Sister

“A well-researched page-turner. The stakes mount to dizzying heights . . . Chamberlain certainly knows how to escalate tension.” —Kirkus Reviews on Necessary Lies

“Absorbing and haunting, this should strongly touch Chamberlain's fans and draw those who enjoy Jodi Picoult and Barbara Delinsky.” —Booklist on Necessary Lies

“This engrossing novel digs deep into the moral complexity of a dark period in history and brings it to life.” —Publishers Weekly on Necessary Lies

School Library Journal
12/01/2015
Molly and her husband, Aidan, want to adopt a baby. A young pregnant girl who wants to give her child up thinks that they may be the couple to become her baby's parents. But though Molly knows that she wants this baby, she is also unsure about being an adoptive mother. Her past looms close and hides a secret that she fears will unhinge not only this adoption but possibly her marriage. Alternating chapters tell the story of Molly's life during the summer she turned 14 in her small North Carolina town, juxtaposed with chapters about her life today as a lawyer in San Diego. She was raised in a loving family with a pharmacist mother and a therapist father with multiple sclerosis. That summer, Molly befriends a new girl who introduces her to an older boy, and subsequently drugs and sex. When a devastating event occurs and her beloved father dies, Molly is unable to reconcile the actions of her family. She is unable to trust them and leaves them behind, first for boarding schools and then for her adult life in San Diego. It is only her fear that the past is beginning to influence her present that pushes her to deal with those earlier events. VERDICT An excellent choice for mature teens who will follow Molly's burgeoning maturity as she tries to keep her father close and safe.—Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA
Kirkus Reviews
2015-07-15
A prospective adoptive mother examines her past and her conscience prior to embarking on her parental journey. Molly and her husband, Aidan, involuntarily childless attorneys in San Diego, are going through the fraught process of qualifying to adopt. Molly, 38, has a degree of trepidation about how "open" this adoption is expected to be: is the birth mother, Sienna, expecting to be part of her child's life in perpetuity? Molly's misgivings are understandable; she herself is the product of a family in which her birth mother, Amalia, lived close by, and she witnessed the discomfort such proximity created for her adoptive mother, Nora. Molly has not told her husband why she's now estranged from both Amalia, who's dying, and Nora—in fact, she's told him almost nothing about her past. The present narrative is interspersed with chapters flashing back 24 years to Morrison Ridge, a large tract of family-owned land in the wooded hills near Asheville, North Carolina: Molly is 14, living with her mother, Nora, and her father, Graham, a psychotherapist who has invented a new behavioral regimen, "Pretend Therapy." Multiple sclerosis has left Graham paralyzed from the neck down. Molly is a bookish, precocious teen who types Graham's manuscripts and accompanies him on book tours. However when she falls under the influence of a classmate, Stacy, who introduces her to older boys, the plot takes a major detour through teen-novel territory: Molly's main preoccupation, enabled by a Judy Blume novel no less, is now losing her virginity. In the meantime, Graham and his relatives are wrangling over the fate of the Ridge: one faction wants to sell to a developer while others, including Molly's grandmother and Graham, want to keep the land pristine. While the family argues and Molly's hormones run wild, something else is going on that will make for the explosive revelation at novel's end. Marred by excessive sentimentality and superfluous exposition that dilutes the drama.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781250010742
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
10/06/2015
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
55,356
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

Pretending to Dance


By Diane Chamberlain

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Diane Chamberlain
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-01074-2


CHAPTER 1

San Diego


I'm a good liar.

I take comfort in that fact as Aidan and I sit next to each other on our leather sectional, so close together that our thighs touch. I wonder if that's too close. Patti, the social worker sitting on the other wing of our sectional, writes something in her notes, and with every scribble of her pen, I worry her words will cost us our baby. I imagine she's writing The couple appears to be codependent to an unhealthy degree. As if picking up on my nervousness, Aidan takes my hand, squeezing it against his warm palm. How can he be so calm?

"You're both thirty-eight, is that right?" Patti asks.

We nod in unison.

Patti isn't at all what I expected. In my mind I've dubbed her "Perky Patti." I'd expected someone dour, older, judgmental. She's a licensed social worker, but she can't be any older than twenty-five. Her blond hair is in a ponytail, her blue eyes are huge, and her eyelashes look like something out of an advertisement in Vogue. She has a quick smile and bubbly enthusiasm. Yet, still, Perky Patti holds our future in her hands, and despite her youth and bubbly charm, she intimidates me.

Patti looks up from her notes. "How did you meet?" she asks.

"At a law conference," I say. "In 2003."

"It was love at first sight for me," Aidan says. I know he means it. He's told me often enough. It was your freckles, he'd say, touching his finger to the bridge of my nose. Right now, I feel the warmth of his gaze on me.

"We hit it off right away." I smile at Aidan, remembering the first time I saw him. The workshop was on immigration law, which would later become Aidan's specialization. He'd come in late, backpack slung over one shoulder, bicycle helmet dangling from his hand, blond hair jutting up in all directions. His gray T-shirt was damp with sweat and he was out of breath. Our workshop leader, a humorless woman with a stiff-looking black bob, glared at him but he gave her that endearing smile of his, his big brown eyes apologetic behind his glasses. His smile said, I know I'm late and I'm sorry, but I'll make you happy that I'm in your workshop. I watched her melt, her features softening as she nodded toward an empty chair in the center of the room. I'd been a wounded soul back then. I'd sworn off men a couple of years earlier after a soul-searing broken engagement to my longtime boyfriend Jordan, but I knew in that moment that I wanted to get to know this particular man, Aidan James, and I introduced myself to him during the break. I was smitten. Aidan was playful, sexy, and brainy, an irresistible combination. Eleven years later, I still can't resist him.

"You're in immigration law, is that right?" Patti looks at Aidan.

"Yes. I'm teaching at the University of San Diego right now."

"And you're family law?" She looks at me and I nod.

"How long did you date before you got married?" she asks.

"About a year," Aidan says. It had only been eight months, but I knew he thought a year sounded better.

"Did you try to have children right away?"

"No," I say. "We wanted to focus on our careers first. We never realized we'd have a problem when we finally started trying."

"And why are you unable to have children of your own?"

"Well, initially it was just that we couldn't get pregnant," Aidan says. "We tried for two years before going to a specialist."

I remember those years all too well. I'd cry every time I'd get my period. Every single time.

"When I finally did get pregnant," I say, "I lost the baby at twenty weeks and had to have a hysterectomy." The words sound dry as they leave my mouth, no hint of the agony behind them. Our lost daughter, Sara. Our lost dreams.

"I'm sorry," Patti says.

"It was a nightmare," Adam adds.

"How did you cope?"

"We talked a lot," I say. Aidan still holds my hand, and I tighten my grip on him. "We talked with a counselor a few times, too, but mostly to each other."

"That's the way we always cope," Aidan says. "We don't keep things bottled up around here, and we're good listeners. It's easy when you love each other."

I think he's laying it on a little thick, but I know he believes he's telling the truth. We congratulate ourselves often for the way we communicate in our marriage and, usually, we do a good job of it. Right now, though, with my lies between us, I squirm at his words.

"Do you have some anger over losing your baby?" Patti directs her question to me.

I think back to a year ago. The emergency surgery. The end of any chance to have another child. I don't remember anger. "I think I was too devastated to be angry," I say.

"We regrouped," Aidan says. "When we were finally able to think straight, we knew we still wanted ... still want ... a family, and we began researching open adoption." He makes it sound like the decision to pursue adoption was easy. I guess for him it was.

"Why open adoption?" Patti asks.

"Because we don't want any secrets from our child," I say with a little too much force, but I feel passionately about this. I know all about secrets and the damage they do to a child. "We don't want him — or her — to wonder about his birth parents or why he was placed for adoption." I sound so strong and firm. Inside, my stomach turns itself into a knot. Aidan and I are not in total agreement over what our open adoption will look like.

"Are you willing to give the birth parents updates on your child? Share pictures? Perhaps even allow your child to have a relationship with them, if that's what the birth parents would like?"

"Absolutely," Aidan says and I nod. Now is not the time to talk about my reservations. Although I already feel love for the nameless, faceless people who would entrust their child to us, I'm not sure to what degree I want them in our lives.

Patti shifts on the sectional and gives a little tug on her ponytail. "How would you describe your lifestyle?" she asks in a sudden change of topic, and I have to give my head a shake to clear it of the image of those selfless birth parents. "How will a child fit into your lives?" she adds.

"Well, right now we're both working full-time," Aidan says, "but Molly can easily go to half-time."

"And I can take six weeks off if we get a baby."

"When." Aidan squeezes my hand. "Be an optimist."

I smile at him. To be honest, I wouldn't mind quitting my job altogether. I'm tired of divorce after divorce after divorce. The longer I practice law, the more I dislike it. But that is for another conversation.

"We're pretty active," I tell Patti. "We hike and camp and bike. We spend a lot of time at the beach in the summer. We both surf."

"It'd be fun to share all that with a kid," Aidan says. I imagine I feel excitement in his hand where it presses against mine.

Patti turns a page in her notebook. "Tell me about your families," she says. "How were you raised? How do they feel about your decision to adopt?"

Here is where this interview falls apart, I think. Here is where my lies begin. I'm relieved when Aidan goes first.

"My family's totally on board," he says. "I grew up right here in San Diego. Dad is also a lawyer."

"Lawyers coming out of the woodwork around here." Patti smiles.

"Well, Mom is a retired teacher and my sister, Laurie, is a chef," Aidan says. "They're already buying things for the baby." His family sounds perfect. They are perfect. I love them — his brilliant father, his gentle mother, his creative, nurturing sister and her little twin boys. Over the years, they've become my family, too.

"How would you describe your parents' parenting style?" Patti asks Aidan.

"Laid-back," Aidan says, and even his body seems to relax as the words leave his mouth. "They provided good values and then encouraged Laurie and me to make our own decisions. We both turned out fine."

"How did they handle discipline?"

"Took away privileges, for the most part," Aidan says. "No corporal punishment. I would never spank a child."

"How about discipline in your family, Molly?" Patti asks, and I think, Oh thank God, because she skipped right over the "tell me about your family" question.

"Everything was talked to death." I smile. "My father was a therapist, so if I did something wrong, I had to talk it out." There were times I would have preferred a spanking.

"Did your mother work outside the home as well?" Patti asks.

"She was a pharmacist," I say. She might still be a pharmacist, for all I know. Nora would be in her mid to late sixties now.

"Are your parents local, too?" Patti asks.

"No. They died," I say, the first real lie out of my mouth during this interview. I have the feeling it won't be the last.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Patti says. "How about brothers and sisters?"

"No siblings," I say, happy to be able to tell the truth. "And I grew up in North Carolina, so I don't get to see my extended family often." As in, never. The only person I have any contact with is my cousin Dani, and that's minimal. Next to me, I feel Aidan stiffen ever so slightly. He knows we're in dangerous territory. He doesn't know exactly how dangerous.

"Well, let's talk about health for a moment," Patti says. "How old were your parents when they passed away, Molly? And what from?"

I hesitate. "Why does this matter?" I try to keep my voice friendly. "I mean, if we had our own children, no one would ask us —"

"Honey," Aidan interrupts me. "It matters because —"

"Well, it sounds like your parents died fairly young," Patti interrupts, but her voice is gentle. "That doesn't rule you out as a candidate for adoption, but if they had inheritable diseases, that's something the birth parents should know."

I let go of Aidan's hand and flatten my damp palms on my skirt. "My father had multiple sclerosis," I say. "And my mother had breast cancer." I wish I'd never told Aidan that particular lie. It might be a problem for us now. "I'm fine, though," I add quickly. "I've been tested for the ..." I hesitate. What was the name of that gene? If my mother'd actually had breast cancer, the acronym would probably roll off my tongue with ease.

"BRCA," Patti supplies.

"Right." I smile. "I'm fine."

"Neither of us has any chronic problems," Aidan says.

"How do you feel about vaccinations?"

"Bring 'em on," Aidan says, and I nod.

"It's hard for me to understand not protecting your child if you can," I say, happy to be off the questions about my family.

The rest of the interview goes smoothly, at least from my perspective. When Patti finally shuts her notebook, she announces that she'd like to see the rest of the house and our yard. Aidan and I had spent the morning dusting and vacuuming, so we're ready for her. We show her the room that will become the nursery. The walls are a sterile white and the hardwood floors are bare, but there is a beautiful mahogany crib against one wall. Aidan's parents gave it to us when I was pregnant with Sara. The only other furniture in the room is a small white bookshelf that I'd stocked with my favorite children's books. Aidan and I had done nothing else to the room to prepare for our daughter, and I'm glad. I never go in there. It hurts too much to see that crib and remember the joy I felt as I searched for those books. But now with Patti at my side, I dare to feel hope and I can imagine the room painted a soft yellow. I picture a rocker in the corner. A changing table near the window. My arms tingle with an uneasy anticipation.

We walk outside after showing her the bedrooms. We live in a white two-story Spanish-style house in Kensington, one of the older parts of San Diego, and in the bright sunlight our well-maintained neighborhood sparkles. Our yard is small, but it has two orange trees, a lemon tree, and a small swing set — another premature gift from Aidan's parents. Exploring our little yard, Patti says the word awesome at least five times. Aidan and I smile at each other. This is going to happen, I think. We are going to be approved as potential adoptive parents. Some birth parents will select us to raise their child. The thought both excites and terrifies me.

Patti waves as she gets into her car in the driveway. Aidan puts his arm around me and we smile as we watch her drive away. "I think we passed with flying colors," Aidan says. He squeezes my shoulder and plants a kiss on my cheek.

"I think we did," I agree. I pull a big gulp of oxygen into my lungs and feel as though I've been holding my breath all afternoon. I turn to him and circle my arms around his neck. "Let's work on our portfolio this weekend, okay?" I ask. We've been afraid to take that step, afraid to pull together the necessary photographs and information about ourselves in case we somehow failed the home study.

"Let's." He kisses me on the lips and one of our neighbors honks his horn as he drives by. We laugh, and Aidan kisses me again.

I remember how I'd wondered if our daughter would have his brown eyes or my blue. His brawny athletic build or my long, slender arms and legs. His easygoing nature or my occasional moodiness. Now our child will have none of those things — at least not from us — and I tell myself it doesn't matter. Aidan and I have too much love for just two people. Sometimes I feel as though we're bursting with it. At the same time, I pray I'll be able to extend that love to a baby I didn't carry. Didn't give birth to. What is wrong with me that I have so many doubts?

* * *

That night, Aidan falls asleep first and I lie next to him, thinking about the interview with Patti. There was nothing there to come back to haunt me, I assure myself. Patti's not going to search for my mother's obituary. We are safe.

The lies I told Aidan when we were first dating — my dead mother and her breast cancer, my cold relatives — had been accepted without question and set aside. He knew I meant it when I said I'd laid the past to rest the day I left North Carolina at eighteen. We never revisited those lies. There'd been no need to, until today. I hope the interview with Patti will be the end of it. I want to move on. We need to create our own healthy, happy, sane, and loving family.

I think about our "open communication" Aidan had described to Patti. Our honest relationship. At times I feel guilty for keeping so much about my past from him, but I'm honestly not sure he would want to know. I try to imagine telling him: My mother murdered my father. I'd said those words once and they had cost me. I will never say them out loud again.

CHAPTER 2

Morrison Ridge Swannanoa, North Carolina


Daddy sat across from me in his wheelchair at the small table in the springhouse, a beam of sunlight resting on his thick dark hair.

"Check it out," he said, nodding toward the window, and I turned to see a dragonfly on the inside of the glass. Centered in one of the wavy panes, it looked as though it had been painted there with a fine-tipped brush.

I got up for a closer look. "A common green darner," I said, although I wasn't certain. "There was one in my bedroom last night, too," I added, sitting down again. "I think it might have been a dragonhunter."

Daddy looked amused. "You just like the sound of that name," he said.

"True. It was pretty, whatever it was." I'd forgotten a lot of what I'd learned last summer when I was thirteen and so into insects I thought I'd grow up to be an entomologist. This was the summer nothing felt quite right. One minute I wanted to ride my bike at top speed up and down Morrison Ridge's hilly dirt roads. The next minute I was shaving my legs and tweezing my eyebrows. Even nature seemed confused this summer in the mountains where we lived outside Swannanoa, North Carolina. The laurel was trying to bloom again, even though it was July, and the dragonflies were everywhere. I was careful when I touched the porch railing or the handle of my bicycle, not wanting to squash one of them.

I picked up a chocolate chip cookie from the plate in front of me and held it across the table to him, aiming for his mouth.

"How many calories?" he asked before taking a bite.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain. Copyright © 2015 Diane Chamberlain. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author


DIANE CHAMBERLAIN is the bestselling author of more than twenty novels published in over eleven languages. Her books include The First Lie, Her Mother's Shadow, The Good Father, and Kiss River. She lives in North Carolina with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her shelties, Keeper and Cole.

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Pretending to Dance 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put it downn. Absorbing story of true fsther/dsughter bond snd sensitive adoption issues. Told from a 14 year old growing up and into adulthood with complicated family. Loved it,
Anonymous 12 months ago
Great book and easy to read!! Such a great story!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this novel until the ending. I found that the ending irritated me. There are two time periods within this novel, one which Molly is a young teen and one in which Molly is a young adult. I feel that the author did a fabulous job switching between the two time periods. I really enjoyed Molly’s childhood story, this narrative was wonderful and I could have read a whole novel based on this part of her life. Molly is surrounded by her family as the whole family lives on a huge piece of land, acres and acres of countryside which the family has named Morrison Ridge. Each family has their own parcel, housing their homestead all within driving range of each other. Molly’s father is in a wheelchair as his health has been declining over the years. He is a therapist and he also writes books for which Molly has been assisting him. Her mother is a pharmacist; she seems so busy and occupied for which I wondered if that is why I thought she was so cold and distant. Its summer and Molly finds a new friend Stacy. The world that she brings to Molly is one that is laced with boys, lying, sex, drugs, and alcohol amongst other things. Molly is excited, her world has existed among adults for the most part and now she can experience what it is like to be a teen. As she reads over Forever, the Judy Blume book Stacy gave her, I drifted back in time to the days when I read her books in private, concealing the covers so my mother would not know exactly what I was reading. Oh, the education Judy Blume gave me that year in elementary school. I thought this relationship with Stacy was important to Molly’s character, it shaped her, it helped her to determine who she was and she got to experience life. This portion of the novel dealing with Molly’s childhood was filled with drama and stories, stories dealing with all the families, stories with Molly’s family alone and stories with just Molly. I didn’t want this portion of the novel to end. We also read about Molly as an adult. She and her husband are trying to adopt a child. Molly is hiding a secret for which no one, not even her husband is aware of. As they fill out the adoption papers, Molly feels that her secret will be discovered. You can feel the tension in the air as you read and Molly tries to act as if nothing is wrong. As I was reading about Molly as a child, I was trying to uncover this mystery and enjoy her childhood adventures. There were a few odd developments in the story but the stories continued on without much merit as to whether they applied to each other. As the couple is hopeful to what could be a new person in their life, Molly is being haunted by her past and what could put an end to her future. I really enjoyed the characters in this story. Molly’s father was loving and fun and I only wished I would have known him before he was ill. As they sang together off-key and as they spent time together, you could feel the love that he had for her. Molly was furious at her father sometimes and that was understandable, for I think she was scared for their future. Her relationship with Amalia, their time dancing together- what fun and what an interesting relationship. I loved the author’s twist on this character and how she was included in this novel. The ending, how Molly could have such emotions for such a long period of time amazed and angered me. What a waste, what a shame that someone did not step in and do something. This is definitely a good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I usually like Diane chamberlain's books, but found this book very slow reading. I kept on thinking, when is something going to happen. Not one of her better books. Could not relate to any of the characters, not very interesting.
Alfie More than 1 year ago
One dimensional characters and overly sentimental. Not a fan - debated about even finishing it but I did. So much more could have been done with this story.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Told in alternating narrations by the same character; one storyline is in the present day as Molly is trying to come to the terms that adoption will be the only way her and her husband can create a family, the second storyline is the summer Molly is 14 years old and it will be the summer that changes her life. I adore books told this way where we learn about the character's past while still moving the current story forward. The storyline from the past was the main focus of the book and I loved it. I loved her age at 14 and how the author showed that as a teenager we miss clues and hints that are going on around us as people at that age are very self centered.
feather_lashes More than 1 year ago
Pretending to Dance is a women's fiction novel written by Diane Chamberlain. This story is told from the past and present perspective of the main character: Molly. The revolving time frames work flawlessly as the reader witnesses how events in her adolescence follow her into adulthood like a shadow. Life seems to come full circle for Molly and she must address the secrets and lies associated with her past if she wants to move forward. Focal themes include coming of age, adoption, marriage, family estrangement, and quality of life issues. Pretending to Dance was so very, very good. I felt consistently engaged and when I cried, my tears felt endless. The subject of adoption is close to my heart and the emotional complexity of this part of the story was palpable. Pretending to Dance is one of my favorite Chamberlain books to date, and the audiobook performance is excellent. If you enjoy women's fiction/drama, please don't miss this one. My favorite quote: "It’s hard to move on if you don’t forgive. It’s like trying to dance with a lead weight on your shoulders. The anger can weigh you down forever."
Mengel2 More than 1 year ago
Having previously lost a child, Molly and Aiden are going through the emotional journey of adoption. Although they are a loving couple who believe in honesty and communication, Molly is hiding a huge secret from her husband. Upon completing the section about her family for the adoption paperwork, Molly is brought back to when she was fourteen years old and the events that changed her life forever. Bouncing back and forth from the present day to a pivotal time in Molly’s life when she was fourteen, the author sheds light on the true Molly. From her close relationship with her father, to her first boy crush, and the realization that her life isn’t what it seems, we are given a bird’s eye view of the happenings of this crucial time in her life. But it’s when her father dies that makes the biggest impact on her, causing her to lose trust in her mother and cut off ties with the family. Pretending to Dance is an emotion-packed, engaging book that will tug at your heart-strings. The characters are relatable with their flaws and imperfections. And the way the author perfectly alternates the present and the past to give you a story that is realistic while tackling tough issues is sheer genius. So if you’re looking for a book with unexpected twists, surprising discoveries, with an element of suspense, you don’t want to miss out on this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read the short ,99 pre quel, as usual one of her best! I think i say that every time i read one of her books! Dont miss this ine!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not wait to read. Could not put down.
KWilkes1 More than 1 year ago
Coming of age and becoming a mother... two life altering journeys that make you question everything you know. As Molly Arnette goes through one, it brings up memories and grief of the other, almost like she's straddling two worlds. Unable to have children of her own, Molly and her husband start the process of an open adoption. Throughout, and with a reminder from someone from her past, she is forced to face the events that changed her life, the ones that had everything to do with where she stood today, even if she didn't realize. Her discoveries open her eyes, shedding new light, and help to clear up the cluttered path to her future. I am a faithful follower of Diane Chamberlain, and because of this was lucky enough to win an Advanced Reader's Edition from the publisher, St. Martin's Press. I promise you, she didn't disappoint. The feelings. Her writing is so amazing, you feel what her characters feel. It's so easy to slip into them, to feel them. Her subject matter is poignant, and makes you think. What would I do, how would I handle it? I highly recommend this be added to your to be read list, whether you've read Diane's books previously or not!
Holly More than 1 year ago
I received this book from the BookSparks 2015 Fall Reading Challenge in exchange for a honest review. In Pretending To Dance, it's the story of Molly and how one summer when she was 14 changed everything. Molly and her husband are trying to adopt a baby after failed attempts to have one of their own when her distant cousin writes her a email reminding her of family that she wants to forget. When Molly was 14, her dad had MS and during that summer everything changed, from her discovering about boys to losing herself from everything that happened with her dad, it made her see life different. As Molly and Aiden go through the adoption process, it makes Molly look back on how everything turned out and after she tells Aiden what happened that summer, she goes back and discovers that you can go home again and things will be alright. I loved how this book played out with the whole going back and forth from preset day to 1990 and it ended just on the right note as well. Diane knows how to get the reader so evolved with the story that it makes you happy but sad all at the same time. Mrs. Chamberlain is gonna be on my top list of authors to be reading now just because this is my first novel that I read by her and it was awesome!!! Thank You to Diane Chamberlain for writing such a great book and I'm looking forward to more stories!!
Jasmyn9 More than 1 year ago
Pretending to Dance was an amazing story. Taking place during two pivotal times in Molly's life, we uncover her past as she tries to come to terms with it in her future. The summer of Molly 14th year was the one that changed her life forever. Molly experienced so many changes in her life that year that stay with her for the rest of her life. It was a summer full of fun and tragedy, and it haunts her still. This summer is beautifully told and at times it seems like such a magical time of discovery for her. In the present, Molly has lied about her past and her family to everyone. As she gets ready to adopt a child, she begins to re-visit her past more and more, terrified that it will somehow come out and ruin her chances. Her struggle with this is very real. As the adoption itself begins to falter, she goes into a downward spiral both mentally and physically.I learned so much about open adoption, the pitfalls and the joys. It is such a different process than I had ever imagined. Her present and past come to a head when she is forced to face her past and address what happened there. While she finds a little of what she expected, things weren't quite as she had thought. And so much has changed since then that it's almost unrecognizable. This was a beautiful story of a family's love and the things a family may be willing to do to help the children. I think this is a must read for readers of all sorts. There are so many very special elements that you will find a way to connect to the characters and their lives. *This book was received in exchange for an honest review*
Lillianne More than 1 year ago
The title for this book is quite significant. Can a person really pretend to dance through life? Can a person pretend life is one way and then live it that way? Molly Arnette and her husband are both lawyers in California who are in the process of adopting a baby. However, the adoption process brings up childhood memories Molly has kept a secret from everyone, including her beloved husband. This book is cleverly written focusing on Molly’s childhood with her adoring father and family in North Carolina. The adoption process which triggers Molly’s childhood memories is woven into the story. The author addresses many themes in this book including family, marriage, adoption, friendship, secrets (lots of secrets), and loyalty. Without spoiling the several twists and turns in this well written book, I can honestly say, I stayed up all night reading this book. I had to know the family secrets and how things turned out. Riveting. By far, this book is the best book I have read this year! *I received an advance reader copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review as part of the BookSparks University Fall Reading Challenge.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Diane always tells a wonderful story about something meaningful for someone cee cee wilkes was my favorite a great way to get introduced to this special talented author
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars! WARNING! You will need tissues for the ending of this book. I LOVED this book!! I enjoyed the historic part better than the present day part. I got a little tired of the whining about whether or not they would get the baby, but I can understand the frustration. Wow, her adopted mother killed her father and her birth mother lived right down the street. That's some serious dysfunction there. But hey, it is North Carolina. I got relatives there and part of my family tree is one straight branch, so I know all about that. HA! But that's all I can say about that because I can't give you any spoilers, your just going to have to buy the book to find out. But it will seriously make you say "WHAT?" when the true story comes out. Well, okay I did. The story deals with a lot of things and dancing is just a small, very small part of it. I found this to be very entertaining, intriguing, and I really got into the story. I was definitely wanting to slap Molly several times especially when Stacy told her Chris was with another girl the weekend she was on the book tour and then she still met him. But, girls know everything at the ripe old age of fourteen. Right! Anyway, thanks to St. Martin's Press and Net Galley for this free e-galley in exchange for an honest review. I highly recommend this book. Come on, it's Diane Chamberlain for goodness sakes. How could you go wrong?