(4 / 5)
Every body can be a dancer’s body!
All her life, Fiona Madsen has dreamed of becoming a dancer—a dream that was shattered on her seventh birthday when her mom told her that dancing was not for “fat girls” like her. Now, at age thirty-five, Fiona is again confronted with her weight issues when the HR department at work kindly encourages her to attend a support group for people with health problems. Here, she connects with Skinny Stu from accounting and realizes the two of them have more in common than she could ever imagine.
To address their issues, Stu suggests the two sign up for a Dancing With the Local Stars competition. After much deliberation and soul searching, Fiona says yes and together they—Fat Fiona and Skinny Stu—embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. But they must overcome one major obstacle first… Fiona’s sister, who’s running for mayor, finds out about the competition and threatens to have Fiona disqualified. Will Fiona withdraw from the competition to protect her sister’s reputation or will she follow her childhood dream of becoming the ultimate Dancing Queen?
Set in everyday life in Seattle, Dancing Queen is a story of hope and finding the courage to be happy with who you are instead of who others think you are.
I am not a giant fan of chick lit, so I thought this was going to be a bit of a stretch for me to like this book. I gave it a shot though and it turned out pretty good. It in no way made me feel like I need to go out and buy a whole new chick lit library, but I am glad that I agreed to review it for the author. In the end it turned out to be a well written book with a great storyline about stepping out of your comfort zone and ending up better because of it in the end.
This was a great story about Fiona, an over-weight office worker that is thrust out of her own comfortable (big)box when she and a couple other employees are voted to be “special” employees of the month. During a meeting they are encouraged to reach out and gain some support through each other, make friends, join a group activity: All things that Fiona has any interest in doing.
An unlikely friendship is struck between Fiona and a skinny officemate named Stu, who suggests they dance in an upcoming dance competition, similar to Dancing With the Stars. There are many issues that these two have to deal with throughout the story, not only her weight and family relationships but others that I won’t go into right now because **spoilers**.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS STORY
There are characters that you can really care about by the end of this story. The author is good at putting you inside Fiona’s head. The idea of the dance competition as part of the employee of the month thing falls away early on and this becomes more about working through personal issues for the main characters Fiona and Stu. These personal issues and their back stories are what drive the plot and make you fall in love with them.
Speaking of plot: Super cute plot. Like this is something that I would enjoy seeing on TV, and I think others would too, because it seemed very original to me, and it’s what made the story unique. There were a couple twists and turns, and it was loaded with current pop-culture. This will make a great Hallmark movie someday!
It was so funny. Even when it came to the serious parts, it was funny, which makes it light and quick to read. This was also in no way a romance novel. It could have been, but the author kept that predictable element out of the story and it was refreshing.
Also, last but certainly not least, what an adorable cover!!
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE ABOUT THIS STORY
Ok, I will admit that in the beginning I was put-off by all of the fat talk. Fat Fiona this and fat jokes that and stereotypes about fat women and skinny men. But as I delved even further into the story, I began to really like Fiona and Stu. The fat talk falls away when they are together and while her weight is still an issue, it isn’t the main focus of every sentence out of her mouth. Honestly I couldn’t stop thinking about Kate from This is Us of NBC and I love her and so I really wanted this to work for them.
This book was easy to follow and enjoyable to read, and I think that it had a satisfying ending without it being cheesy. It could also be read in one sitting if one was so inclined. I have read Jane Green and Jennifer Weiner before, and I think that if you liked reading their books you would like reading this one too.
*This book was given to me for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.* Thanks for the opportunity Charlotte!
Author Bio of Charlotte Roth:
Charlotte is a mom, a wife, and an author—in that order. She’s originally from Denmark but moved to Seattle in 2005 with her husband, baby Alfred, and lots of hopes and dreams. The family has since added the twincesses, Emma and Olivia.
When she’s not ‘mom’ (read= doing laundry, making lunches, and solving kids’ world crisis), she spends every second of her free time writing what readers call compelling, fun, and loving stories. Her fiction is often inspired by real life and at times highly personal. Her novels are filled with endearingly flawed (mostly female) characters and emotional complexity. You are what you write. You write what you are.
As a bonus, Charlotte has sent me a couple of excerpts from the book! Here is a close look at three scenes from Dancing Queen….
I might get sacked today. Great! To take my mind off it, I casually look at the guy who is sitting two chairs down from me. I know his name is Stu. He sits either right next to Diane or in the cubicle next to hers. I’ve often seen him in the cafeteria wearing one of his colorful scarves and stylish, black designer eyeglasses, meticulously stirring his tea, or broth, or whatever it is all these skinny people eat to stay skinny. My guess is he’s around my age, but then again, skinny people always look older with their hollow cheeks. At least fat people don’t have to worry about fillers. He looks nervous, frantically flipping through a magazine. Our eyes meet for a moment and then I look away, afraid he’ll see how nervous I am. Even at thirty-five, being called to the manager’s office still makes my stomach hurt and my palms all sweaty. Moreover, I can’t help thinking about the twenty-seven people over in sales who were laid off last week.
I take in a deep breath and look down at my feet. Maybe I should have painted my toenails bright green—the color of hope—instead of gloomy gray. It’s not that I’m superstitious or anything, but I do believe a person can dress for success. But how does one dress for a potential firing? I pick up a magazine from the coffee table to occupy my hands. Jennifer Aniston is gracing the front cover wearing a black, snug-fitting dress and red, killer heels. “DRESS THE PART,” it says in big bold letters. Of course, it would be a hellavu lot easier to dress any part if you’re freaking Jennifer Aniston.
I run a finger over the image of the dance shoes. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day after I had just turned seven. Mom had invited Grandma, Aunt Alice, and Uncle Bob for cake and leftover pizza from the kids’ party the day before. It was a warm day, and we were all sitting in the backyard listening to the mosquitoes’ buzzes fill the air.
“For you, my little dancing queen,” Grandma said as she had handed me her gift loosely wrapped in one of Grandpa’s old Seattle Times. “I went all the way to Aurora Avenue to pick them up Friday morning.” Emotion was thick in her fragile voice.
When I unwrapped the paper, I swear I almost fainted. There, lying on top of a bed of yellow tulips, were the most beautiful shiny pair of black tap shoes I had ever seen.
Seeing the excitement in my eyes, Aunt Alice had whispered: “Why don’t you go try them on?”
I remember looking up at Grandma who was nodding, a single tear falling from her Seattle-gray eyes. Carefully, I picked up the shoes and ran all the way to my room, where I found just the right crisp white socks to go with them. It was a perfect match. When I returned to the backyard, I swear I was walking on cloud nine. I had never been happier. I twirled around and tapped, tapped, tapped down the stepping-stones loud and proud for everyone to see. Grandma clapped, Uncle Bob whistled, and Aunt Alice wahooed. They were all cheering me on, except for Mom, who just sat there, arms crossed over her chest, her mouth turning into a thin line.
When I turned seven years and two days, cloud nine was pulled right out from under me. The first thing I noticed as I traipsed down the stairs for breakfast were the tap shoes standing on the kitchen counter wrapped in one of Mom’s special Ziploc bags.
Without saying a word, Mom placed a bowl of cereal in front of me and sat down next to me with that look on her face.
“Now, I don’t want you to get upset, Fiona Magdalena,” she began. Of course, I knew that whatever came after that would indeed be very upsetting. “You know Grandma Sue is old and senile and apparently doesn’t know what would be an appropriate gift for a, um, a seven-year-old girl.” She waved a hand dismissively in the air and sighed. “Surely,” she continued, her eye darting to the tap shoes on the counter, “she can’t be thinking straight. I mean, tap dance is not really a thing for a girl like you, right?”
I didn’t say anything. I just sat there and stared down into the bowl of cereal. Like me, the Rice Krispies had silenced, not a single rice-puffing sound.
“Fiona?” She reached over and tucked a stray hair behind my ear.
I nodded. I wanted to prove her wrong. I wanted to prove them all wrong, but I knew she was right. At only seven years, two days, and forty-seven inches, I was already a size 12. Tap dancing wasn’t for elephants. It was for petite and graceful girls with long blond hair.
“Now, I’m just saying this to keep you from tears later,” she said when she saw the big tears pooling at my eyes. “It’s for your own sake. You don’t want to make a fool out of yourself, right?” She patted my hand and stood up. “I’ll run by her house later today and explain. By this time tomorrow, she’ll probably have forgotten all about it.”
“Oh Fiona, you’re so busted!” He nods at the blue door, which I only now realize is wide open, the purple light bulb illuminating half the hallway. Oh no, I forgot to lock the door, I think as I slowly walk toward him. Suddenly, all I can hear is the pounding in my heart, the throbbing in my ears. My mouth is all dried up and my palms are all sweaty. Oh no, not the closet.
“I said the closet to the right,” I manage to say, unable to hide the desperation in my voice.
“I always mix up right and left,” he says and giggles behind his hand.
I don’t smile back. I’m angry, anxious, and ashamed at the same time. Aside from Diane, I have never shared my secret closet with anyone. Not even Grandma or Aunt Alice. Especially not Violet or Mom. It’s my closet, my secret, my shrine—the place where dreams live but never leave.
“And you said you’re not that good. You won all those?” He leans in and points at something inside the closet. Even though I can’t see what he’s pointing at, I know exactly what it is: I know every single item by heart.
“No, not exactly.” I try to pass him to reach for the door but he takes a step forward and cuts in front of me.
“Better spill the beans, Fiona. This is becoming more and more interesting by the minute.” Once again he laughs—obviously unaware of how uncomfortable all of this is making me, totally unaware of the thousand thoughts racing through my mind.
In a voice just above a whisper, I beg, “Please don’t,” hoping he’ll let it go. “I forgot to lock it. I always keep it locked.” I’m praying he’ll hear the desperation in my voice and that it will explain everything without me actually having to utter the words. In my head, I’m convinced it should. I never leave this door unlocked. Never. The only reason it’s open at the moment is because of the cleaning—the freaking spring cleaning in freaking October where freaking Stu had to show up out of freaking nowhere. Freaking unbelievable! “Let’s just close it again.”
“Why? It’s amazing.” He places his index finger on his chin pretending to be in deep thought. “No, it’s not amazing. It’s epic!”
If you like what you see you can buy Dancing Queen right here on Amazon or you can read it for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!!