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"One Day We’ll Dance Again" by Angela Brown Ware

Jun 28, 2015 | Books

This is Angela Ware’s account of watching her son die and then putting her family back together. Her 6-year-old son is diagnosed with brain cancer. I was very hesitant to read this one. Unfortunately, there are many books of this type and most of them try very hard to infuse their stories with as much emotion as possible. As a result, they often come across a bit mawkish, so it almost doesn’t feel tragic. 

What sets this book apart is that its author simply tells the story; she does not try to add to it or get in its way. Let’s face it, a dying child is about as tragic as it gets. Trying to make the story heart-rending is simply to burden it; it cheapens it. It is precisely because the story is so tragic that simplicity is the most effective to tell it. And that is what Angela Brown Ware does.

Also unlike many of its kind, the book does not stop with the child’s death.  Nearly half the book is devoted to the family trying to regain some normalcy.  Eric dies over the course of more than three years, so that it becomes a way of life for the family. One of the most poignant moments for me was the first time they go out to eat after this death. They start to ask for a table for five and then realize they are no longer five.

Ms. Ware and her three boys used to dance to the radio as she cooked dinner.  That stopped when Eric became ill and for several years after that. But Mom knows they will dance again one day, because life goes on and she has two young boys who still need her. That’s where the title comes from.

I think this is Ms. Ware’s first go at a full-length book and she does an excellent job. On the whole, it is well-written. There were beginner mistakes—we see no progression of time, for instance, so we don’t always know where we are—and it definitely needs a good copy editor—pronouns should have been used a lot more than they were and there are continuity issues—and these do sometimes stop the flow of the story, but they don’t ruin it. I was in tears through much of it, and I don’t do that easily with books. I had Angela on my radio show. Click here if you’d like to listen to it.