Let me start this review, by telling what is it that I really do expect in a novel. I'm sure you, the readers, will be able to relate to it well too. So, here goes... I expect a good and binding story-line, a seamless and flowing narrative, relatable and likeable characters, and impeccable yet easy dialogues.
Too much to expect, I know. Did I get at least some of them, in 'With You I Dance'? Well, not really.
I didn't get 'some' of them; I got them all and much more, much, much more.
As a reviewer, I get to read and review 3-4 books every month from different authors around the globe. It is bound to start becoming a little monotonous and repetitive after a while, especially so, when every other writer decides to play it safe and stick to the proven & popular genre of romance. How many love stories can one read after all? How many typical Bollywood styled girl-meets-boy-they-fall-in-love-in-comes-the-villian-fight-ensues-boy-wins-and-they-live-happily-ever-after stories can promise originality, to any extent, if at all.
And just when you are about to take a stand and totally give up on romance as a genre, in comes a book like 'With You I Dance'. It not only takes your ugly plant of preset notions and snatches it right off of the ground, but sows another tender plant, with a small bud of a beautiful flower waiting to blossom. The flower, striking deep red in color, the color of love. I shall be forever grateful to you, Aarti Venkatraman, for writing this book and restoring my faith.
'With You I Dance' is a story of a young girl, Meera. She is not your typical Indian girl, mind you. She just won't give in to anyone's demand that she finds unreasonable or to be against her belief system; not even if that anyone are her own parents, who wants her to get married and give up on her dream of becoming a ballerina. Meera doesn't give up, she stands tall and protests till her parents relent and allows her to go to N.Y.C., and learn professional ballet at the prestigious Juilliard school. In comes a twist in the tale, and Meera somehow ends up screwing up her big chance, her career, and the love of her life, Abeer. Somehow the same Abeer, along with her childhood friend Zoya would be the ones who will help her to stand up back on her feet and fulfill her dream somehow, later in life. Does Meera end up happy? Do Meera and Abeer get back together, or he and Zoya are just helping an old friend out of sympathy?
The author, Aarti Venkatraman, has oh so beautifully portrayed all her characters, complete with their little flaws, their fears, strengths, shortcomings, longings, and desires. That is the one secret of making them relatable and real-to-life, for the reader. The language used is impeccable, to say the least. The flow is unhurried yet lucid.
Overall, I'd climb right to the top of the tallest building in town, if I have to, and recommend this book to everyone out there. If you're in love, you would relate; if you've fallen out of it, you'd scratch your way back in; and if you've never fallen in love, well...I guarantee, you will.
I give this book, a 4.5 out of 5 stars.