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Dancing Queen

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Dancing Queen
Fiona has a big butt and big dancing dreams, which, according to her mom, don't go well together. Now, at the age of thirty-five, Fiona is finally ready to prove to her mom, the world, and herself that every body can be a dancer's body...

All her life, Fiona Madsen has dreamed of becoming a dancer—a dream that was shattered on her seventh birthday when her mom told her that dancing was not for “fat girls” like her. Now, Fiona is again confronted with her weight issues when the HR department at work kindly encourages her to attend a support group for people with health problems. Here, she connects with Skinny Stu from accounting and realizes the two of them have more in common than she could ever imagine.

To address their issues, Stu suggests the two sign up for a Dancing With the Local Stars competition. After much deliberation and soul searching, Fiona says yes and together they—Fat Fiona and Skinny Stu—embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. But they must overcome one major obstacle first… Fiona’s sister, who’s running for mayor, finds out about the competition and threatens to have Fiona disqualified.Will Fiona withdraw from the competition to protect her sister’s reputation or will she follow her childhood dream of becoming the ultimate Dancing Queen?

Set in everyday life in Seattle, Dancing Queen is a story of hope and finding the courage to be happy with who you are instead of who others think you are.

"Dance your heartbreak away with Dancing Queen.

Flagged by a new program at their mutual workplace for weight issues, co-workers Fiona and Stu are thrown together as an unlikely pair of unwilling participants. When quilting is suggested as a hobby to replace their total opposite eating disorders, they come up with their own plan to enter a dancing contest, a local version of Dancing With the Stars. Fiona, dubbed Fat Fiona nearly all her life, has long given up her 'closet dream' of dancing, thanks to her mother, whose bias towards Fiona's older, thinner, more successful sister, Violet, is as obvious as Fiona's big butt. Stu, on the other hand, is a calorie-counting, veggie-crunching skinny man with his own set of self-esteem issues, also thanks to sibling bias from a cruel-tongued parent--his father.

The transformation of Fi and Stu's unlikely friendship into two skilled dance partners is a marvelous story! Charlotte Roth uses stories from both characters' pasts to deal with life-altering self-image and self-worth issues. It's a joy to watch them slowly work through feelings of disappointment and heartbreak for ones of self-acceptance and finally hope, eventually leading to forgiveness and much more. With superb character development and a well-executed storyline, Dancing Queen was a joy to read, from start to up-lifting finish. There were several typos but none that took me out of the story, so I'm not deducting for them. I give this highly recommended read a solid five stars! Well done, Ms. Roth!"
~ L. Leger.

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About the Book

This author’s writing has been compared to that of Jennifer Weiner!

♦   ♦   ♦

Best Book Bit:

I run a finger over the image of the dance shoes. I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the day after I had just turned seven. Mom had invited Grandma, Aunt Alice, and Uncle Bob for cake and leftover pizza from the kids’ party the day before. It was a warm day, and we were all sitting in the backyard listening to the mosquitoes’ buzzes fill the air.

“For you, my little dancing queen,” Grandma said as she had handed me her gift loosely wrapped in one of Grandpa’s old Seattle Times. “I went all the way to Aurora Avenue to pick them up Friday morning.” Emotion was thick in her fragile voice.

When I unwrapped the paper, I swear I almost fainted. There, lying on top of a bed of yellow tulips, were the most beautiful shiny pair of black tap shoes I had ever seen.

Seeing the excitement in my eyes, Aunt Alice had whispered: “Why don’t you go try them on?”

I remember looking up at Grandma who was nodding, a single tear falling from her Seattle-gray eyes. Carefully, I picked up the shoes and ran all the way to my room, where I found just the right crisp white socks to go with them. It was a perfect match. When I returned to the backyard, I swear I was walking on cloud nine. I had never been happier. I twirled around and tapped, tapped, tapped down the stepping-stones loud and proud for everyone to see. Grandma clapped, Uncle Bob whistled, and Aunt Alice wahooed. They were all cheering me on, except for Mom, who just sat there, arms crossed over her chest, her mouth turning into a thin line.

When I turned seven years and two days, cloud nine was pulled right out from under me. The first thing I noticed as I traipsed down the stairs for breakfast were the tap shoes standing on the kitchen counter wrapped in one of Mom’s special Ziploc bags.

Without saying a word, Mom placed a bowl of cereal in front of me and sat down next to me with that look on her face.

“Now, I don’t want you to get upset, Fiona Magdalena,” she began. Of course, I knew that whatever came after that would indeed be very upsetting. “You know Grandma Sue is old and senile and apparently doesn’t know what would be an appropriate gift for a, um, a seven-year-old girl.” She waved a hand dismissively in the air and sighed.  “Surely,” she continued, her eye darting to the tap shoes on the counter, “she can’t be thinking straight. I mean, tap dance is not really a thing for a girl like you, right?”

I didn’t say anything. I just sat there and stared down into the bowl of cereal. Like me, the Rice Krispies had silenced, not a single rice-puffing sound.

“Fiona?” She reached over and tucked a stray hair behind my ear.

I nodded. I wanted to prove her wrong. I wanted to prove them all wrong, but I knew she was right. At only seven years, two days, and forty-seven inches, I was already a size 12. Tap dancing wasn’t for elephants. It was for petite and graceful girls with long blond hair.

“Now, I’m just saying this to keep you from tears later,” she said when she saw the big tears pooling at my eyes. “It’s for your own sake. You don’t want to make a fool out of yourself, right?” She patted my hand and stood up. “I’ll run by her house later today and explain. By this time tomorrow, she’ll probably have forgotten all about it.”

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Other Reviews for this title:

Fiona is a relatable character, and Stu is a likeable companion. Together, they embark on a journey of self-discovery. Roth hit the perfect balance of heart-warming, humor, and “real-life” writing. Dancing Queen is an uplifting tale that reminds you to be courageous and strong, to have hope, and to always follow your dreams.

Submitted by Beth Hale

Endorsements
This book took me a while to get into, and, when I finished it, it took me a while to decide how to review it. Here is why:

The story of Fiona, an overweight 35-year-old girl stuck in a boring job, and her colleague and semi-accidetal friend Stu, who struggles with being skinny, is a warm one, written with heart and introducing some memorable characters as their friends, family members and dance competition.

What originally drew me to the book was the title, and having loved dancing all my life, the possibility of Fi and Stu changing their lives through dancing showed lots of promise. Along the way, the author also shows us the difficult family situations and past secrets which haunt them both, and manages to develop a deep and lovable friendship, not just between the two of them, but more people than they may have expected. Fiona's growth as a person is a commendable motive and leaves the readers with a sense of accomplishment and optimism. References to popular music and descriptions of dance costumes added a light touch to the serious issues which are resolved in the second half of the book. This is not a light chicklit with the promise of a romance, although there are funny situations, fun and friendships throughout. The silly, kind-hearted aunt stuck in the 80s, a best friend with a sweet-tooth ritual, Fi's brother-in-law living in the shade of his ambitious wife - they all add to the charm and are the best part of the story.

However, this feels more like a family drama for me, and would have been much more if treated as such all the way. As it is, the book does not live up to its full potential. There are some inconsistencies in character speech patterns, several vulgarisms which do not blend in but stand out as unnecessary, the buzz word 'like' is used too often, and certain relevant plot twists could have been introduced with more pace and care (avoiding spoilers here). Telling the story in first person is also a tricky thing - the author's opinion sometimes blends into the character's, and there are times when you are not quite certain if it's the character thinking something or actually retelling it. I missed some of the characters from the beginning of the story in the end; it seemed logical they would be there. The tone changed from witty to dramatic abruptly, as if changing genre mid-book. Having dropped hints sooner, about some deeply rooted issues the characters deal with, would have made them more relatable, the plot more convincing and the story would send its otherwise wonderful message (of chasing dreams and not giving up) with much more impact than it does for me.

So why bother writing a review if I decide to be this picky? Well, because I kept reading to see what happens in the end, because I am sure there are girls out there who will be motivated by Fi's story, because I love how the author plays with the detail of the dancing shoes (linking past, present and future), because Stu and Lance are just so lovely you'd hug them, because I could see Annie in her legwarmers and I could hear the music. So yes, this book shows a lot of promise. It may not be perfect, but then again - none of us are. It has heart, it has charm, it shows promise.

This review was written for Readers Review Room and its potential earned it a blue bookworm from me.
“You’re right,” I mouth to Diane. “You can reach for the stars.”

Here is a book with heart, warmth, inspiration and joy. The wonderful characters will delight readers and make everyone feel as happy and sparkling as if they were singing along to “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.

Fat Fiona and Skinny Stu are the main characters. Fiona is “calorically challenged.” They work at the same place, along with Fiona’s friend Diane. Their company has a policy of providing self-help groups for its employees and Fiona and Stu are in placed in a health and stress awareness group. Sounds like a downer for them, right? But Stu and Fiona have dreams and this leads to them becoming dance partners and entering a local dance competition. They both learn that they are beautiful people who can thrive. I truly loved this part of the story, especially the part about Fiona’s closet; the author’s words enabled us to enter Fiona’s word and really see into her soul.

We learn more about Fiona through her backstory. I felt that this part of the book got away from the author. There were too many serious problems that didn’t get the full attention they deserved. There are also some heavy-handed cultural comments.

All in all, this book is witty and well-written and the author gives us loveable and relatable characters. If you are looking for a positive and entertaining read, this is a wonderful story. You will be happy you read it and you may feel like dancing!

Fiona always dreamed of being a Dancing Queen, and her grandmother had faith in her while no one else did. She was a great character because she was strong even though her mother and sister seemed against her.

Stu ( her coworker) and she enter a dance contest. Fiona is not sure at first but she gives in. She is overweight and he is skinny.

Stu was my favorite character because he was so encouraging.

The book would have been much better without the bad language.
Love and inspiration can find us in the most unexpected of places. Fiona had grown comfortable in her life as Fat Fiona, the invisible one, the predictable one. But her whole world is turned upside down when she meets Skinny Stu. Not only does Stu pull her out of her comfort zone, he shows her who she really is inside, and helps her find her true potential as a dancer, and a person.

As usual, the road to greatness isn't easy, but through determination, Fiona realizes a childhood dream, mending broken relationships with her loved ones along the way.

This is a story of courage, perseverance, and hope, told in an entertaining and humorous way. The characters are relatable and likable, and several unexpected twists will keep you turning page after to page to connect the dots.

If you enjoy movies like My Best Friend's Wedding, and Hairspray, you'll enjoy this book!
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