Dance with your heart, and love will follow.
Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.
Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.
But Spenser and Tomás’s world is forever poised to crash down around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.
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The rapidity of change in American politics allows Cullinan to make her second Dancing novel (after Dance with Me) a period piece set in the distant historical era of the early 2010s, in a Minnesota considering the repeal of same-sex marriage while the nation is on the edge of marriage equality. Dance teacher Tom s Jimenez's student, Duon Graves, winds up on Tom s's doorstep after enduring homophobic abuse from his family. Tom s's neighbor, closeted kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris, takes the boy in. Someone needs to give Duon a new home, and Spenser realizes that Tom s cannot risk exposing his undocumented parents, whom he supports while they raise his deadbeat sister's children, to the scrutiny of the foster care system. Cullinan balances activism and escapism as she places Tom s and Spenser's interracial love-conquers-all romance in a context full of real contemporary challenges, letting the reader indulge hopeful thoughts of the possibility of successful support networks for gay men and immigrants without straying too far into after-school special territory. However, her analogy between the freedom of dance and the freedom to allow happiness into one's life often feels overblown. (BookLife)