An academically driven high school student discovers a new perspective on life—and a chance at love—when she signs up for dance lessons in this YA novel.
For Lily Bailey, the high school experience is all about preparing for the future. A senior at Brighton High in Texas, she plans to become class valedictorian, then attend Harvard University, her parents’ alma mater. When the pressure of trying to maintain a perfect academic record lands her in the hospital for stress, her father, Steven, decides she needs to spend her Saturdays focused on an activity other than studying. She signs up for dance lessons at Ilusiòn, a studio run by the mother of classmate and star football player Ágoston “Stone” Torres. After Stone helps Lily with her first salsa lesson, her father offers the athlete a substantial amount of money to be her partner at the studio and convince her to keep taking lessons. Stone is conflicted; he does not want to lie to Lily or his mother, but the studio is struggling financially, and he could use the money to help keep it open. As the lessons continue, an attraction develops between Stone and Lily. She attends his football games and enjoys a life outside of school. They soon fall in love; but the weight of Stone’s secret could jeopardize their relationship. Harris’ (The Nanny Arrangement, 2017, etc.) romance is a warmhearted, breezy treat bolstered by strong characters, an engaging and multilayered story, and sharp writing. Lily and Stone are winsome protagonists who initially seem to have little in common. As their relationship develops, they discover they share similar experiences. Lily’s mother died of cancer while Stone’s sister, Angéla, survived a battle with the disease. The chapters alternate between Lily’s and Stone’s first-person perspectives, an approach that allows the author to explore their romance and their relationships with their parents, particularly Lily’s bond with her father. Her mother’s death was difficult for them, and Lily discovers a new connection to her through the dance lessons. The compulsively readable narrative is crisp and incisive, with flashes of wit. For example, when describing her dancing ability, Lily says: “I have zero rhythm. Like, think of your favorite dancer, subtract every ounce of talent they have…take a little more, and then you’ll have me.” This tale may appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen.
A charming and delightful romance with dynamic characters.