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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Dancing Barefoot by Alice Boyle

Dancing Barefoot is the latest release from Australian queer writer, Alice Boyle. It’s also the winner of the prestigious ‘Text’ Prize awarded by the Text Publishing company for a new and upcoming manuscript.

Boyle is not new to the genre, her writing is strong with strong references to the Australian environment and the social constructs in which she places her characters. In this book, Mountford College is the high school setting with its ever leafy atmosphere and level of sophistication where the protagonist, Patch, is completely out of her depth.

The relationship between Patch and the idyllic Evie begins auspiciously with an incident with a bottle of ink that results in a close connection with sapphic overtones from the very beginning. Incorporating a close friendship first was a nice touch to the genre - usually reliant on raw attraction and impulse.

Encouraging the reader to be considered and thoughtful in the presentation of a queer relationship such as the one developed in the plot, Boyle explores the inner workings and conflicts present for both girls involved, highlighting some of the more confusing aspects and the way others may respond to such an outcome. This is particularly the case for the basketball star, Evie.

As a YA text it is adding to the growing collection of engaging, sweet and important genre of LBGTQI+ community acceptance and appreciation. It is a quick read with a depth to the writing that makes it both an important read socially, and an engaging read linguistically.

The dialogue is drawn out at times, with some extended sequences that probably lose a little of the cadence of the overall plot, but certainly adds a realism to the whole situation. Each character is believable but still fits with the trope of the not-fitting-in character mixing with the sporty/popular character. While it’s predictable in this sense, it has a breath of fresh air in the telling of the narrative.

Overall, this is a sweet novel about young love and connection based on an ever growing appreciation for the other person, rather than a physical attraction driven connection.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Text Publishing


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