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Susan Eileen Walker

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Secret of the Dance
by Susan Eileen Walker   

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Young Adult/Teen

Publisher:  Keene Publishing ISBN-10:  0976680548


Copyright:  June 2006 ISBN-13:  978097680543

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Chance and Jeremy Applewhite, small town brothers who both love dance, chose very different paths after high school. Jeremy headed for the fame and glory of the New York City dance world. Whereas Chance stayed in their small town, choosing a family and the steady work of owning his own restaurant, dancing only in his spare time at the small dance studio he and his wife, Stacy, run. Over the years, the distance between the brothers grows in more than just miles.
After seventeen years away, Jeremy returns home unannounced and discovers his beloved grandmother has died, and he's too late to make amends for never keeping in touch. Devastated by the loss and his own injuries he must figure out how to rebuild his life. Chance is not exactly pleased to see his older brother. Remi, Chance's sixteen-year-old daughter, herself a dancer, is thrilled by her uncle's return and spends every moment running errands for him. Tensions build as Chance feels Jeremy's presence could cause trouble and he threatens to reveal a long-kept secret.
A heart-felt novel about pursuing dreams and being true to your heart, Secret of the Dance explores a family's struggle to adjust to the changes caused by Jeremy's homecoming, Remi's growing into an independent young woman, the revelation of family secrets.

Appropriate for ages 12 and up, this novel will appeal to young adults and adults who remain young at heart.

Barnes &
Keene Books

Chapter 1 Remi Applewhite looked from the envelope to her father. This was it, the letter she’d been waiting two months for. The one that could make her dreams a reality or crush them to dust. All she had to do was open the envelope and read the contents. At sixteen, she was sometimes strong and outgoing, but other times like now, she was shy and fearful of everything. “I can’t open this. You do it, Daddy,” she said, holding the letter out. “Show some backbone girl. You’re an Applewhite, not a scaredy cat,” her great grandmother Dottie, said from the other side of the table. “Hurry up and open it while the pie is still warm.” “Yes, ma’am.” Remi opened the envelope and pulled out a single page. Unfolding it, she read aloud. “Dear Miss Applewhite. Thank you for your interest in LaGuardia High School. At this time we are not taking applications from outside the New York City school district. If you were to relocate to the area, we would be happy to take a second look at your application and audition video. You also need to concentrate on gaining more production experience as well.” “Well that sucks,” Dottie said, breaking the silence. She cut Remi’s wedge of apple pie twice the size of normal and expertly served it to a plate. “Dottie!” Both Remi and her father, Chance, protested the old woman’s language. Dottie looked from one to the other. “What? Did you think I didn’t know the word? I’m old, not out of touch. So, what are you going to do now? Are you sure you want to go to this school?” “This is a wonderful school and has a great training program for dancers,” Remi said, wiping away tears of disappointment. “So, what are you going to do now?” Dottie asked, handing Chance his slice of pie, then cutting a small wedge for herself. Weekly dinner with Dottie and her father always challenged Remi. Dottie demanded real conversation, opinions, thoughts and debate in full sentences. She did not allow single word answers, grunts or animal sounds that might suffice elsewhere. Remi took a bite of pine and savored it while trying to come up with options to giving up on her dream. “I can’t think of anything. I guess I could always call Uncle Jeremy and beg him to let me live with him so I qualify for school.” “NO! Absolutely not!” Chance yelled as he jumped out of his chair. He stared at her as if she’d just vowed to burn down the school in protest. “Sit down, Chance,” Dottie said. Remi stared at her father, her heart pounding at his violent reaction to what seemed like the perfect solution. “But Dad, he lives in New York City. I could live with him, go to school and maybe get a job as a real dancer.” Chance sat down and took several deep breaths before speaking. Whenever he did this, Remi knew he was trying to get himself under control. Finally he said, “Jeremy’s a stranger. He’s been gone for seventeen years and hasn’t bothered to contact us once. You will not call him out of the blue and ask to live with him. You’ll just have to come up with another solution. “But Daddy…” “No child, leave him be. Jeremy might be family, but we don’t know what he’s like these days.” Dottie patted Remi’s arm. “We’ll just have to come up with another way to get you into that school. Now you dry the dishes while your father washes,” Dottie gave out the clean up assignments, then settled back with her coffee cup. “Yes, ma’am,” Remi said. She returned the letter to its envelope, then rose to carry her dishes to the sink. Half an hour later a horn sounded. “Mom’s here,” Remi said as she gathered her belongings. She hugged her father, then her great grandmother. “I’ll see you next week, Dottie,” she said. “Instead of calling, it might be better to write a letter,” Dottie whispered as she pressed a folded piece of paper into Remi’s hand. “I love you, child.” “I love you, too,” Remi said, not understanding, but closing her fist around the paper anyway. Once she was in the car, Remi turned on the map light and unfolded the piece of yellow paper. Then it all became clear. Instead of calling her uncle, Dottie had suggested she write him a letter. Remi thought about it all the way home and decided that her great grandmother was right. That way she could think everything through and make her argument in just the right way. She also wouldn’t get flustered like she would if she talked to her world famous uncle on the phone. * *         

Professional Reviews

School Library Journal, March 2007
School Library Journal, March 1, 2007

WALKER, Susan Eileen. Secret of the Dance. 231p. CIP. Keene. 2006. Tr $15. ISBN 978-0-9766805-4-3. LC 2006007232.
Gr 9 Up—Jeremy Applewhite, world-famous dancer, returns to Romney, WV, for his grandmother's funeral. Seventeen years have passed since he has been back, and he and his brother, Chance, have barely kept in touch. Beset by painful injuries, Jeremy realizes that his Broadway dancing days are over, but he has no idea what to do next. Fortunately, his return home leads to love, a new direction for his talents, and confirmation that Chance's 16-year-old "daughter," an able young dancer, is actually Jeremy's child. Although the teen plays a role throughout the story, the real focus seems to be on the relationship between the brothers, which may limit the book's appeal for YAs. The men are trying to come to terms with the disappointments in their lives, the sacrifices they have made, and how they can reestablish their relationship. The characters are all decent people whose problems are neatly solved by novel's end. What it takes to become a dancer is emphasized throughout so that readers may appreciate the relative brevity of dancers' careers as well as the drive necessary to "make it."—Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA

5 Stars - Midwest Book Review
*****A Fine Story. October 7, 2006
Two small town brothers who love to dance take different directions after high school: one journeys to New York City, the other stays in their small town to run his own restaurant and dances only part-time. Nearly twenty years pass before Jeremy returns home unannounced discovering his grandmother has died and he's lost touch with his family. Add a closely-kept family secret to tensions between adult siblings and you have a fine story which sounds like it's tailored for adults, but which is very accessible to kids ages 12 and older.

Bookviews by Alan Caruba, September 2006
Secret of the Dance by Susan Eileen Walker ($15.00, Keene Publishing softcover). It is an interesting story of two brothers who love dance, but while one goes off to fame in the New York dance world, the other remains behind in a small town to run a restaurant and dance studio with his wife. Their 16-year-old daughter, herself a dancer, is thrilled by her uncle’s sudden return. This produces tension between the two brothers who have grown distant over the years. It’s a well-told, interesting story.

Bookviews by Alan Caruba, September 2006

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