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Book Review: Flirty Dancing By Jenny Mclachlan

Book Review: Flirty Dancing By Jenny Mclachlan

Flirty Dancing follows the story of Bea Hogg, a shy fourteen-year-old girl, who only let’s her feisty side out at home. A national dance competition called Starwars comes to her school looking for talent and Bea is eager to take part. However, her best friend ditches her and joins the popular girl, Pearl’s, dancing group instead. Left without a partner, Bea’s nan calls in a favour with a friend and finds Bea a jive partner. That partner just so happens to be Ollie Matthews, the school hottie and Pearl’s ‘boyfriend’. Consequently, Bea becomes Pearl’s target and loses her best friend at the same time. Despite this, she discovers a love of dancing and learns some important life lessons along the way.

This book focuses mostly on Bea and you see her develop from a shy and quiet girl into a confident and feisty young girl. She is badly bullied at the beginning of the novel, but by the end of it, she is defending those even less fortunate than herself. What’s great is that Bea doesn’t change who she is, it only her attitude that changes. She doesn’t suddenly become popular or cool but she comes to terms with the fact that she is who she is and that person is awesome. This is an important life lesson for a young girl and I think this theme is developed brilliantly. Bea is certainly an inspirational character and a great role model for teenage girls.

The relationship that Bea has with her family, especially her nan, is really heart-warming. It’s nice to see a novel aimed at young teens that manages to encompass friends, family and first love all in one novel. However, I was really disappointed by the other inter-character relations and the general character development of anyone other than Bea. Although Ollie is a ‘main’ character, we don’t actually hear about him and his personality that much and we never really get inside his head. I guess Bea doesn’t really know much about him either, apart from the fact that he is super hot, which could explain this.

The supporting characters seemed a little flat, with Pearl, the bully, fulfilling her role as the stereotypical popular girl and Bea’s sister Emma being a typically annoying three-year-old. Bea is really the only character that has much depth, which is a shame, but for such a short book, I suppose fleshing out all the characters would be difficult.

The main focus of the book is Bea’s development and the dancing competition, which doesn’t leave much room for any other story lines, hence they seem quite rushed. At the very beginning of the book, Bea is dumped by her best friend Kat, who joins popular girl Pearl’s dance group. When we first meet Kat she seems like a great friend and a funny character but suddenly that all changes and we do not hear much about her throughout the rest of the novel. Then at the end, Kat makes a reappearance and is obviously very sorry for being a terrible friend and suddenly all is well again. This ‘too-good-to-be-true’ happy ending was not for me, but should appeal to the target audience.

All in all, this is a light teenage read that manages to include some good messages about self-empowerment, self belief and the importance of family. It’s not the most original of stories but the dancing element is unique. The short length of the novel meant that there was little room for much development or many subplots, which was a shame, but perhaps I am expecting too much of a novel aimed at young readers. I am definitely in the wrong age group for Flirty Dancing, but I can imagine that this book would go down quite well with young teens. I read the entire book in around two hours, so it’s perfect for reading on a train journey somewhere. I’d recommend this story to young girls aged 11-15 to really get the most out of this story.

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Laura is a culture and travel blogger based in London. She studied French at Oxford University and now studies Law in London. She’s an avid reader and traveller and loves to combine the two with literary travel. Find her tips and reviews on the best reads, eats and destinations on whatshotblog.com.

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  1. Hungry_Healthy_Happy
    17th February 2016 / 10:44 AM

    It sounds like an easy read that all young women should pick up.

  2. Lucy - BakingQueen74
    17th February 2016 / 10:54 AM

    My daughters are a bit young but I’ll look out for something like this when they are old enough. Has the right message in it it seems.

    • 18th February 2016 / 7:56 PM

      Yes definitely! Can’t say the same for some books out there these days..

  3. Our Little Organic Life
    17th February 2016 / 11:00 AM

    Seems like a decent message…but sounds a bit young for me and a bit old for my daughter.

  4. Nancy Laws
    17th February 2016 / 12:56 PM

    I really love your review, you were very honest about both positive and negative points.

  5. Rhian Westbury
    17th February 2016 / 1:01 PM

    It’s good when teenage books have underlying messages of self empowerment and loving yourself. x

  6. 17th February 2016 / 2:24 PM

    I like its theme of self-empowerment and learning how to love yourself. That is something I am working on this year as I am definitely my own worst critic and I need to stop undermining myself.

    • 18th February 2016 / 7:56 PM

      Yep me too! Wish I’d read something like this when I was 14 :/

  7. Natasha Mairs
    17th February 2016 / 2:24 PM

    sounds like a lovely read, I am quite into YA books at the moment

  8. 17th February 2016 / 3:22 PM

    oh sounds a great read I actually have 3 books sat waiting be read but will take a look at this one too

  9. Beth
    17th February 2016 / 4:25 PM

    This sounds like a good read. I don’t read books and haven’t for a good few years but really need to get back into it

  10. 17th February 2016 / 7:09 PM

    This sounds like it could be a nice light read for teens. I’m sure a lot of girls will identify with Bea.

  11. sarah Lea
    17th February 2016 / 9:00 PM

    Ohhhh this book sounds like a great read for a teenager. Not sure it’s one for me and my daughter is a little too young but I like the message it sends out, thanks for sharing. xx

  12. charlibruce
    17th February 2016 / 9:03 PM

    This sounds like something my daughter would love to read, I might add it to her ever growing pile!

    • 18th February 2016 / 7:55 PM

      It’s a nice quick read, I’m sure she’d enjoy it 🙂

  13. Bex Smith
    17th February 2016 / 10:04 PM

    This sounds like a really interesting book that teens especially would love!

  14. 17th February 2016 / 10:34 PM

    Sounds like an interesting easy read.

  15. 18th February 2016 / 11:24 AM

    Oh this definitely sounds up my street!

  16. Cassandra Mayers
    18th February 2016 / 11:26 AM

    Sounds great 🙂 Will have to recommend it to any young teens i know to read x

  17. 18th February 2016 / 8:11 PM

    Yes! I’m so pleased that this has a message of self empowerment running through it, some YA books are a little thin on the well rounded female characters front so it’s nice to hear that Bea has some depth. x

  18. Jessica Dearnley
    18th February 2016 / 9:06 PM

    This sounds like a really interesting book, probably a bit too young for me though x

  19. Hello Beautiful Bear
    18th February 2016 / 10:33 PM

    I love stuff like this. I’m 24 and I’d probably still read this now! Haha x

  20. 19th February 2016 / 8:00 AM

    Sounds like a great book to read, even though I am in my 40s. I literally will read anything and everything!

  21. Hannah Malanga
    19th February 2016 / 1:06 PM

    Sounds like a really good read, I don’t stick to one genre of book I like all different things so may give it a go

  22. Beautyqueenuk
    21st February 2016 / 4:27 PM

    Not sure whether this is one for me or not, I am curious enough to look for it on Amazon though ha x

  23. mummyslittlemonkey
    22nd February 2016 / 11:17 AM

    This sounds like exactly the sort of story my eldest would like; she’s only seven now, so still a bit young, but I can totally visualise her with her nose stuck in this book! I like the message too – to stand strong against the ‘mean girls’. xx

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