Tuesday, May 24, 2011
When We Danced on Water by Evan Fallenberg... Have you ever been surprised by a book?! Thought it would be about something and it turned out to be something totally different? Something that burst with a story that faintly resembled what it started as? That's what happened as I turned the pages of When We Danced on Water. What I thought initially was that this was going to be a love story; a May/December romance between two people. One of which was recovering from a war she served in and a love affair that ended badly. What I read though was a story so rich and encompassing that I still feel the story even after I've turned that last page.
In a small cafe in Tel Aviv, Vivi, a waitress in her 40's reignites the passion of 85 year old Teo as they see each other every day. Their conversations become more intense until Vivi, a supposed artist who can't stay with one project too long, is inspired by Teo's passion for the beauty & discipline of dance; of ballet. Teo was once a gifted ballet dancer, well respected and applauded. As a gift, Vivi decides to celebrate his life and accomplishments. But what becomes an amazing gift has the consequences of almost crushing Teo as he is brought back to long-buried secrets and painful memories of his life spent surviving WWII and the extermination of the Jews by the Third Reich.
What I thought was a simple love story, swept me off my feet into a time and place where the carefree life of a young Jewish boy could change with the slightest bit of circumstance. With lush prose, we are transported back in time to both Teo's life during WWII and Vivi's life as a young girl madly in love during a time of war. Though both wars were different, both had a devastating effect on their lives. And it is their shared pain, and their opening up to one another that finally frees them from their pasts.
I was totally absorbed in the stories of Vivi and Teo. Heartbreaking and believable, When We Dance on Water is the kind of book that will stay with you... The characters, their stories, the consequences of their actions. The setting of this story is Poland, Berlin and Tel Aviv, which seems fresh and unique.
Beautifully written, but there are parts of Teo's life surviving the Holocaust that may disturb you, as there was sexual abuse at the hands of Teo's torturer. I would definitely recommend this book to reading groups, and readers who enjoy stories taking place during WWII.
About the Author... Evan Fallenberg is the author of Light Fell, winner of the American Library Association’s Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award for Literature and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. His translation of Meir Shalev’s A Pigeon and a Boy won the Jewish Book Council Award for Fiction and was short-listed for the PEN Translation Prize. He lives and teaches in Tel Aviv.
Today's post is part of Evan Fallenberg's TLC Book Tour! I want to thank TLC Book Tours for sending along a copy for review! I thoroughly enjoyed it! And Readers can enjoy When We Danced on Water this coming June, when it will be released by Harper Perennial!