Victoria Reviews: Slow Dance by Rainbow Rowell

I have adored Rainbow Rowell’s works for over a decade now; her works, both YA and adult, have resonated with me throughout my entire adult life. But the feelings her writing gives me shift and change over time as every human experience does with growth and aging. Coincidentally, this bittersweet change over time is exactly the topic of Rowell’s latest novel, Slow Dance.

Slow Dance tackles the complex story of Shiloh and Carey, two best friends from the wrong side of the tracks in Omaha, Nebraska (where many of Rowell’s novels are set). While they were inseparable in high school, a run-in at a friends’ wedding illustrates to them both just how much fourteen years of separation and adulthood has changed between them. What follows is a story of missed shots, lifelong fears, dashed dreams, and second chances.

One of my favorite things about Rowell’s writing is the beautiful way she manages to capture the heart of her characters. They come alive on the page in a way that feels like I could give them a call and meet them for lunch at a greasy local diner. Shiloh and Carey are no different. They’re dynamically weird without being Quirky™, and the charm of watching these individuals try to navigate real life issues and relationships never loses its shine for me. There’s something about Shiloh and Carey where you *know* what mistakes they’ve made, and you *know* what mistakes they’re going to make, but you never stop rooting for them anyway. They’re decent people trying to be better people but not quite sure how to manage it, but you desperately hope they can figure it out.

While the story obviously revolves around Shiloh and Carey navigating the strangeness of reentering each others’ adult lives, the supporting characters deserve a mention as well. I particularly loved the exploration of motherhood in this story. From Shiloh’s inattentive-mother-turned-close-friend-and-roommate to Carey’s mother’s aging and poor health to Shiloh’s own navigation of single motherhood and her awareness of repeating a cycle, Rowell delves into their stories and feelings in a way that shines light on the complexity of motherhood. She doesn’t hide the failures of these mothers, but her characters don’t entirely condemn them for it either. There is an acknowledgement throughout the whole book that everyone is doing what they can when they can. It’s not always their best, it’s not always good enough, but in the end, people make their choices to move on and grow anyway.

Slow Dance is a beautiful tale of humans being human. It’s funny and poignant and heartbreaking, sometimes all at once. It gave me the same emotions I get from watching old home movies…a weird mixture of joy and sadness all wrapped up in nostalgia and a clear, sharp feeling of how much things have changed while also nothing has really changed at all. If you like seeing the flaws of humanity and having faith in them anyway, this book is for you.

Slow Dance will be released on July 23, 2024 - preorder your copy today!

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Slow Dance: A Novel By Rainbow Rowell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063380196
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now!
Published: William Morrow - July 23rd, 2024

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Eleanor & Park and Attachments comes Slow Dance—a bright, beaming power ballad of a novel about a love so true it refuses to be forgotten.

Back in high school, everybody thought Shiloh and Cary would end up together . . . everybody but Shiloh and Cary.