The Dead Don't Dance
Dylan and Maggie Styles have a happy, satisfying life on their farm in South Carolina. Their first baby is due shortly. They live on his family farm - one he had tried to escape, but now enjoys even if he isn't the best farmer in the world. Then the unthinkable happens. Maggie and their son are taken from Dylan.
Dylan's life becomes gray. He has to continue although he wants to hide away in a hole and never come out. One of the things Maggie had done for him was apply for a teaching position at the local junior college. His letter of acceptance comes after his tragedy. He wants to ignore it since he hadn't been able to get a teaching position when he first graduated. His best friend, Amos, convinces him to take the job. Dylan agrees only because it was something Maggie wanted for him.
Now Dylan has to learn to live again. He spends months in his pit of despair. His friendships, his unexpected teaching position, and his hope for miracles are the only things that help Dylan through these desperate months.
The Dead Don't Dance was Charles Martin's first published novel. He immediately shows his deft touch with life, death, happiness, grief, joy, despair, fair, and unfairness. The Dead Don't Dance is written in first person narrative from Dylan's perspective. The character rails against his fate even as he works towards accepting it. He goes through the motions of life until his friends start making him look at the world around him once more.
He's a Christian writer, but doesn't dwell on beating the reader over the head with a message. Instead, the messages about God are intertwined throughout the book.
Martin reveals Dylan's tragedy in stages. The reader knows that Maggie goes into labor and into the hospital. Then everything goes wrong. But what happens when it crashed comes out slowly. Martin reveals it in the same manner a person examines hurtful memories, a bit at a time over time. It is nicely crafted and in tune with the poignancy of real life.
The Dead Don't Dance is a touching, emotive book of a man's love for his wife and family. It's well done and evocative. Life is full of ups and downs. Charles Martin shows how we can weather them all in The Dead Don't Dance.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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