The Dancers of Sycamore Street, Julie L’Enfant

Look, I’m as fond of my home state as the next person – probably more than many – and this book is set in Louisiana.  And although part of me was mad because I read a review that called Thursday’s Children “goopy treacle” and compared it unfavorably with The Dancers of Sycamore Street, and that part of me wanted The Dancers of Sycamore Street to be rubbish, I was mostly hoping that I was about to read an undiscovered gem, and not only would I enjoy it hugely, but I would also feel pleased and proud that it was set in my home state.  This is the way I felt about The Mercy of Thin Air, which was fantastic and featured Louie’s, where I have spent many a happy morning eating cheesy hashbrowns.  But not about The Dancers of Sycamore Street.

This book is about a girl called Meredith, who attends a ballet school in the fictional town of Middleton, Louisiana, in 1955.  One day a famous choreographer comes to town and decides he’s going to choreograph a ballet using the Middleton dancers.  Hijinks ensue.

Except that?  They really don’t.  For a book that necessitated the use of the phrase Hijinks ensue, it had the least hijinksy hijinks I’ve ever seen.  Several things happen: (spoilers) the choreographer has a past relationship with Meredith’s teacher but seems to be engaged in romancing the rich lady who is financing the whole thing; Meredith’s teacher’s daughter gets preggo at the end; the one male dancer desperately yearns to be taken to New York to succeed as a dancer there.  But none of it is interesting.  The whole book is just bland, bland, bland, with a side of bland.  Meredith just watches what other people do, and never does anything herself – a literary device that I can imagine working, but it doesn’t work in this case, at all.  The book didn’t have any character, itself, and I didn’t care about any of the characters.  They could all have died in a hurricane at the end and I wouldn’t have cared.

On the other hand, I made my first balloon monkey today.  Monkey.  It’s pretty easy, I don’t know why I never learned how when I used to do them for parties.  Plus, I learned a totally excellent pirate sword.  Arrrrr.

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