DANCING AT MIDNIGHT: THE LIFE OF JUNE PARKER, BY REBECCA YELLAND
PUBLICATION: CREATE SPACE PUBLISHING PLATFORM; 2 EDITION (OCTOBER 27, 2016)
Synopsis: A woman finds her mother’s journal after her death and the secrets she has kept hidden for decades.
Dancing at Midnight: The Life of June Parker is the debut novel from author Rebecca Yelland. Carolyn Graves returns home for the first time in many years after her mother’s death. Growing up, Carolyn was close to her father, however, her relationship with her mother was always strained. Back home to settle her mother’s affairs, Carolyn finds a beautiful box in a cabinet containing a few small items and 3 journals. Confused by the name June Parker, rather than how she knew her mother as June Graves, Carolyn settles into a comfy chair and begins reading her mother’s journals.
I was easily pulled into the plot of this novel because I can ALWAYS relate to a character that has not had a happy relationship with their mother. Initially, it was Carolyn that I related to, but once she began reading the journals I felt an instant connection with June also. This is somewhat challenging to review because so many things happen in June’s life and I do not want to provide any spoilers. But I will say this, Carolyn learns that her mother went through absolute hell for most of her childhood and teen years. When things were stable or comfortable, something bad always happened and I mean always. June’s journals were heart-breaking and although June has already passed away at the beginning of the novel, the reader gets a glimpse of what a survivor she was, that she was forced to become.
As Carolyn reads June’s journals, she begins to see her mother in a different light and is able to develop some understanding as to why their relationship was so strained. While I completely got that, I still struggle with dismissing someone’s actions because of their own past. History does not have to repeat itself, in spite of how we are raised. Granted that June never treated Carolyn as she herself was treated, but Carolyn still grew up feeling detached from June and unable to please her. Do not misunderstand – I was happy that Carolyn was able to gain a new perspective on her mother’s life and that it gave her closure – but I am of the school of thought, and hopefully evidence of the fact that we can be whatever type of mother we want to be regardless of how our own mother treated us.
I love the plot and characters that Rebecca Yelland provides in this novel and have to wonder what inspired such an emotional debut novel. I quickly found myself invested in June’s story and was at times shocked to the point of tears and other times smiling. Some of the writing felt almost over-simplified at times, however, I tried to remember that the journal entries were being written from the point of view of a young girl starting in the 1940’s. I wish I would have gotten to know Carolyn more in the story but I also noticed that a sequel to this book is in the works, so perhaps that will be my chance.
Fans of literary fiction and historical romance will love Dancing at Midnight: The Life of June Parker. Although overflowing with difficult and emotional moments, it is also a story of the beauty of true love and friendship.
*Thanks to author Rebecca Yelland for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
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Learn more about Rebecca Yelland by visiting her web page.