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Instructions for Love

*This is a book review of Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon.

“The time we get is the time we get.”

– X

Quick Facts

Author: Nicola Yoon
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Main Characters: Evie & X
Number of Pages: 304
SJ Rating: 91%

The Synopsis

Imagine being Raven Baxter but the only visions you see are people’s love stories, which turn into heartbreak stories. Well, such is the case for Yvette, better known as Evie. After going through the pain of watching her parents get a divorce, Evie begins her battle with questioning the credibility and purpose of love. Then enters Xavier, also known as X, who challenges her view on love and has her feeling and experiencing things she never thought possible. Still, she finds herself asking: Will it last forever?

As soon as I find out Nicola Yoon publishes a book, I must read it.

The Good

Before we even open the book, I absolutely love the cover. It’s probably my favorite cover out of all the books I’ve read this year, so far. That is how you do a YA romantic fiction book cover. It perfectly matches the descriptions and emotions in the story.

Beyond the cover, there is so much to love about this book. Oh my goodness.

Okay, let’s start with chapter two. I love how Evie, our female lead, discusses her favorite romance genres in an easy two pages. She lists second chance as one of her favorite tropes and says, “These days, I realize this is the most unrealistic trope. If someone hurts you once, why would you give them the chance to do it again?” OUCH, but I also loved reading that.

Speaking of that chapter being two pages, I appreciate that Nicola Yoon doesn’t feel the need to make every chapter a certain length. Sometimes they’re simply one sentence, and that’s enough to be impactful to the plot.

I also feel like Evie was challenging the fourth wall. When Evie says, “I grab my bike and head out and tell myself I’m not in a romance novel,” I died laughing. Like, there was a singular, non-dramatic tear in the corner of my eye; this book has such a beautiful amount of non-cringe wit. Plus, throughout the book, Evie is so adamant about the book not being a love story.

With the actual writing, I appreciate that Nicola Yoon changes the font between the actual story and the love/heartbreak visions Evie has.

I am convinced Evie and I are the same person. When she says “I want to go back and unknow all the things I know now. But you can’t unknow things,” I had to sit and stare because this has been my brain for most of, if not all of, summer 2022. Also, the fact that I know someone who matches her “classic romance guy characteristics: a non-exhaustive list” had me dead; like, I was on the ground, shook to the core, filled with astonishment.

What some would take as Evie being a pessimist, I take as her being a realist. Like when she says, “Because in every romance book ever written, banter is a gateway drug. Banter leads to actual conversation, which leads to dating, which leads to kissing, which leads to coupling, which leads to heartbreak.” Where is the lie? Looks like straight facts to me (of course, not all coupling leads to heartbreak).

There’s only one way I’m not similar to Evie: she has a lot of gut-wrenching things to say about love and heartbreak, some that had me in actual tears. For example, she says, “The problem with broken hearts isn’t that they kill you. It’s that they don’t.” Those two sentences opened the floodgates and brought back a little bit of my own lifelong heartbreak.

The Bad

There are the smallest spelling errors on pages 113 and 116. Also, there are a few tiny grammar errors throughout the book that had me rereading sentences because I got a little confused.

The Overall

This whole book feels like Evie is both telling the story and living the story, and it is written beautifully.

It’s also a country boy meets city girl trope, and being a city girl myself, it’s one of my favorite tropes.

Nicola Yoon created something fantastic with this book and showcased love in different relationships. Of course, there’s the romantic love, but there’s also familial and friendship love present.

I cannot stress this enough: You need to read this book; since it has a bigger font, I’m sure you’ll fly through it.

Next book to be read and reviewed: This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

“Heartbreak = love + time.”

– Evie

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