Rosie's father left when she was quite young. His only interaction with her comes in the mail: a weekly twenty-dollar bill. She has saved his money in a shoebox in the back of her closet as proof "that love cannot be bought."
Shortly after Rosie's father took off, her mother took a new job washing windows and eventually took up with her (married) boss. (She'd been taken from, that was her thinking, and now it was her turn for taking.) Instead of feeling left behind, Rosie learned how to take care of herself and never complained, a quiet strength building inside of her.
Now Rosie is fifteen years old and the grandfather she barely knows is dying. She is sent to check on him by her mother, who is too busy and too stubborn to visit him herself. Luckily, Granddad and his cat Riot are only a twenty-minute walk away. With her friends gone for the summer and her mother always at work, Rosie begins to fill her days with visits to her grandfather. As she helps him sort his belongings, they grow closer. She learns about the grandmother she never knew and the trips her grandparents never took. She also gains an appreciation for jazz music.
On one of her walks through town, Rosie discovers the House of Dance. Once she finally summons up the courage to enter the ballroom studio, her mother's heeled sandals dangling from her hand, she is rewarded with new friends and new routines. An idea starts to form in the back of her mind. As her grandfather's condition worsens, she works hard to make that idea into a reality. There are many supporting players - the other dancers, the instructors, Granddad's nurse, Rosie's friends, the local shopkeepers - who are instrumental to Rosie's plan, and they all chip in.
House of Dance captures the slow-quick-quick movement of life and loss. As with Kephart's previous young adult novel, Undercover, the narrator tells her story at the speed of thought, revealing things to readers that she would never say out loud. She considers happy and sad memories in turn, blending her past with the present day. Detailed in emotions and colors, the characters come to life.
Read my review of Beth Kephart's novel Undercover.
Check out my interview with Beth Kephart.