3 out of 4 stars
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In and out of Step by Christine M. Knight is a story about a former dancer who attempts a career in teaching. Australian Cassie Sleight has not only stepped away from couple’s competition dancing because of a romantic break up with her partner but also harbors a dark secret of rape from her past. After enduring nightmares brought on by the dark trauma, Cassie finally faces her fears of a repeated rape when a male colleague at her new job tries to assault her in a dark stairwell. Though Cassie’s new self defense skills keep her safe, a fellow female teacher is not so lucky. Cassie must help her newfound friend navigate the hurdles of recovery. Cassie must also face her doubts about relationships with her brand new dance partner Michael, who is interested in more than just a professional partnership.
I appreciated the issues the author raised of sexual harassment in the workplace that was prevalent in the 1980s when this book takes place. The main character strove bravely to make changes in the thinking of those around her and to fight abuse instead of becoming a victim.
I enjoyed the musical element in the story. The author often described Cassie’s thoughts in terms of dance, helping her to work out her difficult feelings through movement. Sometimes I did not understand the technical terms used, as I know very little about professional dance. These terms detracted from the impact of the descriptions for me. However, I still enjoyed the correlation between life and dancing.
Another thing I enjoyed was the various characters’ frequent indulgences of a cup of tea or coffee throughout the day. I found these scenes very cozy. I wanted to stop my own day and make a cup of tea along with them.
There were a few things that made the reading a bit difficult for me. One was the rapid switch in dialogue from character to character, sometimes without enough explanation in between to understand what was happening in the scene around them. This left me confused and needing to reread passages to try to figure out what was going on. There were also a few scenes where a character grew upset, said goodbye, and the scene abruptly ended without a clear explanation why the person was upset. These sort of happenings caused me to lose interest in the characters because I could not relate to how they were feeling.
Lastly, the plot left me confused and dissatisfied. The town fights a massive swiftly moving fire for days. While the scene was really exciting, I failed to see how it connected to the main plot and the main character’s conflict. Another issue for me was the way the book followed the lives of several people while the format of the book and its description appear to focus only on the main character. As the story jumped from person to person, I felt confused as to whose story this book was supposed to follow.
In the final chapter, the plot seemed to be coming to a close, but then a question was raised (of which I can’t reveal due to spoilers) that left me wondering what decision the main character would make. The book ends without the character making a decision. There are two more books in this series, but their descriptions do not mention Cassie Sleight at all. I’m not sure if her story is ever satisfactorily concluded.
I think this book has been professionally edited to some extent. I found only a few typos. I don’t know that the book was edited for continuity because of the various disjointed plot points I came across.
Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. If I could give a half star, I would rate it a 2.5. I take away one star for the issues I found with the plot and dialogue. While I liked the idea of the book’s main themes, I felt they were not conveyed well enough to create a book that would be high on my recommendation list. For that reason, I would take away half a star if I could. Since only whole stars can be awarded, I feel the book deserves a three rather than a two because the author did have an entire book without major grammar, punctuation or typing errors, and the intended themes are very clear.
I would recommend this book to those who are interested in women’s rights, small coastal town settings in Australia, and equality in relationships between a man and a woman. This book may not be for those who have suffered from rape or related issues since the story may bring flashbacks. However, I will say it highly supports the side of the victim. So, if you can handle it, I recommend it.
I admire the author’s initiative to tell a story about sexual harassment and abuse. While there are better laws in place today, many still suffer. I applaud her boldness to bring wrong thinking into the light and give power to those who have been hurt.
In and Out of Step
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