About the Book: Bianca Lakoseljac’s debut novel, The Summer of the Dancing Bear, is a mesmerizing combination of love story and mystery all rolled into one . The young protagonist, Kata, explores a most unfamiliar world of the gypsy tribe that has befriended her and embarks on a quest to discover the fate of a neighbour’s missing child. Memory and magic play dominant roles in the story until the shocking denouement that reveals Kata’s own family secrets and forever alters her perceptions of life as she once knew it. Engaging and original, the novel fuses history, myth, and tradition in a whimsical literary voice that reminds us that the complex and innocent humanity in us is too often haunted by human tragedy.
About the Author: . Bianca Lakoseljac is the author of a collection of stories, Bridge in the Rain (Guernica, 2010), and a collection of poetry, Memoirs of a Praying Mantis, 2009. She is the recipient of the Matthew Ahern Memorial Award in literature. Her writing has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Canadian Woman Studies, Canadian Voices, and Migrating Memories: Central Europe in Canada. Summer of the Dancing Bear, which chronicles the rite of passage of a 14-year-old girl befriended by a gypsy clan, set in the former Yugoslavia, is her first novel. Bianca divides her time between Toronto and Woodland Beach on Georgian Bay.
My Thoughts On The Book: I grew up with gypsy tales as a child. My family had many gypsy stories that would tell us as children and because of that I was excited about reading this book. It was not a disappointment. This book was everything I dreamed it would be and more. Lakoseljac portrayal of Kata's consciousness is culmination of a confused and dream-infused vision. Thoughts and images come to her suddenly - sometimes she has been dreaming, and sometimes she finds herself in a remote spot near a marsh or woodland with no idea how she got there. Sometimes it affects her health, and her loved ones and neighbors become alarmed for her. The author always fills us in on the events that lead to the spell, and poor Kata must work through the significance of her visions. Readers will find themselves wishing they could help, because Kata is a very sympathetic character. Regardless of Kata's sudden and unpredictable visions, this book has a tight plot and is extremely rewarding. It honors the oppressed and wandering Romany gypsy tribes, portraying their lust for life as well as their humanity and enlightened traditions. Kata learns the part she will play in their tradition, and the reader is treated to a captivating story. I would highly recommend this book.
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Guernica Editions via Net Galley Publishers in order for a fair and honest review. This book is a must read!