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Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Young adult

Instructions for Dancing

Repeat author

Nicola Yoon is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include The Sun Is Also a Star.

by Nicola Yoon

Excellent choice

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Quick take

Thanks to a life-changing book, a girl finds love and renewed purpose on the dance floor after her parents' divorce.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Teen



Evie Thomas doesn't believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything—including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he's only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it's that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Instructions for Dancing.
Instructions for Dancing

Chapter 1

A Better Version of Me

Books don't work their magic on me anymore. It used to be that if I was in a funk or in the barren hinterland between sad and mad, I could just pluck any random one from my favorites shelf and settle into my fuzzy pink chair for a good read. By chapter three—chapter four at the very latest—I’d be feeling better.

These days, though, the books are nothing but letters arranged into correctly spelled words, arranged into grammatically correct sentences and well-structured paragraphs and thematically cohesive chapters. They’re no longer magical and transporting.

In a past life I was a librarian, so my books are arranged by genre. Until I started giving them away, the Contemporary Romance section was the biggest. My favorite of all time is Cupcakes and Kisses. I pull it down from my shelf and flip through it, giving it one last shot to be magical. The best scene is when the no-­nonsense head chef and the sexy, constantly brooding line cook with the mysterious past have a food fight in the kitchen. They both end up covered in flour and icing. There’s kissing and a lot of dessert-­related wordplay:

Sugar lips.

Sweet buns.

Sticky situations.

Six months ago this scene would have made me gooey inside. (See what I did there?)

Now, though? Nothing.

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Why I love it

What do you look for in a book? There are readers who want an escape. Others want a page-turner. Some read in the hopes of experiencing raw and real emotions. I don’t look for any of those things. At least, I don’t look for them first. But we’ll get to that.

What’s remarkable about Instructions for Dancing is that no matter what kind of reader you are, you’ll find something for yourself in it. It’s about a teenager named Evie Thomas, who has lost her faith in love. Her doubts become certain when she begins to magically see the history and future of every couple who kisses in front of her. Through these visions Evie realizes that there are no fairy tale endings.

Perhaps reasonably she considers giving up on relationships until she meets the confident and seemingly carefree musician X at a dance studio and attempts not to fall for him. After all, he’s got heartbreaker written all over him, and if love isn’t forever, then what’s the point?

The answer to that question is the heart of this book, but that isn’t why I read it in one afternoon. That happened because of the writing. You see, I look for books which make me feel like there is a possibility that within their pages is a sentence so beautiful and true that I’ll wish I’d written it. Nicola Yoon’s writing promises that and delivers. Once, I even took a picture of the text, because I didn’t want to forget a sentence I’d found. That’s why I loved Instructions for Dancing. That’s why you should read it.

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Member ratings (8,711)

  • Jessica C.

    Paris, MO

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ absolutely amazing! Nicola Yoon has once again written an amazing YA novel! we all know it’s a romance, but the main character dosent believe in love, which makes for an interesting story.

  • Charla O.

    Albuquerque, NM

    This book ::heart eyes emoji:: I read the whole thing in 2 sittings. Do yourself a favor and read it!!!! Ugh I wish I could read it all over again like it was the first time. ❤️❤️❤️ HIGHLY recommend.

  • Kelsey W.

    Lexington, KY

    Such a sweet, yet heart-breaking young adult romantic comedy. This needs to be a movie! It’s “Save The Last Dance” remixed with “That’s So Raven”. All the heart eyes from this rom-com millennial! ????

  • Brenda I.

    Kaukauna, WI

    I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but I ended up loving it! So many emotions were felt while reading it & what Evie went through was so relatable. Definitely cried a little towards the end ❤️❤️

  • Caitlin C.

    Chicago, IL

    When I chose this book as one of my monthly picks, I didn’t know what to expect, nor did I know if I’d like it since I’m not into dance. I connected to this book deeply and fell in love with the story

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