Lindsey Scheibe's debut novel, Riptide, has an intriguing hook: surfing, best friends and alternating points-of-view (and let's not forget the appealing cover). It's one of the novels--along with Some Quiet Place--which Flux promoted enthusiastically at the midwinter ALA meeting.
However, despite all of that promise, Riptide proved to be a bit of a disappointment. With the exception of the surfing scenes, which were quite vivid, I found myself wanting more depth and focus from this story.
Riptide is told in alternating points-of-view by Grace and Ford, childhood friends in southern California who live for the surf and sand. Grace can't wait to leave her troubled home, where her father is prone to angry, violent outburst and she's not allowed a much of a social life.
Fragmented images fly through my head—some fun, some scary. Surfing at the beach, Dad’s face when he’s angry, shopping, jogging in the park with Mom, Mom lecturing me on making a good impression, wearing clothes I don’t like, working out with Ford. Then come the big fears. The possibility of having surfing taken away if I screw up and lose my class rank. Not knowing when Dad’s going to explode. Whether or not I can bring it to the Jack n John Surf Comp. It’s like being on an out of control tilt-a-whirl at a carnival. Even on a dream weekend, I can’t escape the stress of home.
As a result, she's pinned all her hopes of escape on a surfing scholarship at University of California-San Diego (I didn't realize this, but there surfing is a sport some schools--mostly in California--actually offer scholarships for). When the opportunity to enter a world-class surfing competition presents itself, an opportunity that could mean catching the eye of UCSD's surfing coach, Ford enters Grace into the competition and she spends the summer training while Ford interns at Grace's father's law office.
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Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati explores the double life of Ditty, a young Haredi Jew, when she discovers the beautiful world of ballet and the passion it invokes in her. Along with this passion the darkness of an invisible wall of fundamentalist religion held together by the rigidity of her family and community.
Bavati breathes life into Ditty's dream of dancing and the depth of deceit she had to descend into to bring her passion for dance into reality.
As a young girl, Ditty happens upon a DVD of The Nutcracker while watching television in a forbidden venue--her dear friend's mother had surreptitiously purchased a television that she hides far back in her closet. Ditty could not turn herself away from the transfixing dance before her.
The movements seemed to ripple through me as my body flowed to the music, and my spirits lifted. I felt vulnerable and vibrant and intensely alive, bursting with feeling I hadn't know existed, couldn't name.
The television and DVD player opens a door to another world. Ditty and her friend become enamored with the life that spread before them. Ditty, at twelve begins to question the dictates of her faith that should, according to her religious parents and community, fill her with all the happiness and joy she could want.
But what, I wondered now, did they actually mean? I knew what I'd been taught – that happiness wasn't something a Jew should strive for, it was a bonus that came from keeping the laws and strictures that had been passed down from one generation to the next.