Review of Danced Close

Danced Close by Annabeth Albert. Lyrical Shine. 2017.

2 stars

danced closeNote: I do not recommend this book to trans and/or genderqueer readers, or to readers who are poz or in recovery.

I may review in more depth, but right now I am just moving on from this with a short review.

I was disappointed by this book, especially by the way it treated certain things about each of the characters as objects/problems: plot devices, sources of conflict, lessons for the reader, the reason a character felt bad about himself, why a character was sure the other MC would never be serious about him. This was at the center of how it handled genderqueer rep and how it handled an MC being working class, formerly homeless, HIV positive, and a recovering addict. This was particularly the case with the MCs genderqueer identity, and it felt terrible for me to read as a genderqueer reader, particularly in the latter half of the book. This book felt like it was very much written for cis readers, for readers who have not dealt with addiction, for readers who have no history of homelessness, for readers who are not poz; it felt deeply othering around those things.

I was also disappointed by the story structure itself, the way the romance arc worked, and the way it did not satisfy as a dance themed story or a foodie story (it got closer with the dance aspect, but really disappointed at the end on that front; there was a build up to this big event where they would dance and then we barely got to see it at all).

The main things I appreciated about this book was that it was dual POV and the slow moving arc of their sex life.

I was hoping for more from this story, and was disappointed almost across the board (including by a cover that erases the MCs genderqueerness); some day I might write in more detail about why.

Representation

  • Poz recovering addict gay man MC with a history of homelessness
  • Genderqueer gay man MC

Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)

Recovering addict character who has a lot of internalized shame around his history of addiction and homelessness, and being poz. Genderqueer character frequently experiences trans antagonism and gender policing in the story, and describes it being part of his past romantic relationship. Eating disorder in the past. Internalized fat hatred and diet talk. Sex on the page. Hints of D/s.

Disclosures

  • Source of the book: I borrowed this book from the Berkeley Public Library.
  • I have had no contact with the author.

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