By Bragg Moore
When I picked up Valerie Winn’s second novel, The Dance Between, I was excited to go back to Mimosa, Mississippi, and learn about Beth Brinkmann. I was rewarded so many times as this young girl approached her early teen years and the perplexity and maturing that comes with them.
Like most early adolescents, Beth is trying to maneuver from the innocence of her youth to understanding herself and the complex world she is discovering. Beth grows up in a strong Catholic family where the values and principles her mom and dad have taught her guide her to this point.
As she matures she begins to realize that challenges await her beyond the simple world of Mimosa, where neighbors are friendly and supportive. Her best friends are maturing and moving in new directions as they enter a “public” middle school, a far cry from the world of Sister Alphonsettia and her small Catholic school. I found myself recalling so many common situations from my own life in a small town, in a small Catholic school, and surely within the presence and effect that the good sisters taught me and Beth.
Beth begins to make her own judgements on the relationships she has with family and friends. She is growing and trying to leave behind her many fears and move toward her big dreams. Unexpected affirmations come from the neighborhood busybody who gently pushes Beth to explore her expressive talent. Once that begins to happen, Beth gains confidence in herself. She is growing up to the surprise of others — and especially to herself.
The simple joy of reading this novel led me to examine my own life’s adventures. I smiled often and stopped to enjoy dredged-up memories. I laughed at the characters and their flaws. I promise it is worth the read. I enjoyed the Brinkmann family, Mimosa, and the lessons that can be learned.
(Bragg Moore is the former director of youth ministry for the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi.)