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Terez Mertes Rose
A Dancer's Guide to Africa
Fiona Garvey, ballet dancer and new college graduate, is desperate to escape her sister’s betrayal and a failed relationship. Vowing to restart as far from home as possible, she accepts a two-year teaching position with the Peace Corps in Africa. It’s a role she’s sure she can handle. But in no time, Fiona realizes she’s traded her problems in Omaha for bigger ones in Gabon, a country as beautiful as it is filled with contradictions. Emotionally derailed by Christophe, a charismatic and privileged Gabonese man who can teach her to let go of her inhibitions but can’t commit to anything more, threatened by an overly familiar student with a menacing fixation on her, and drawn into the compelling but potentially dangerous local dance ceremonies, Fiona finds herself at increasing risk. And when matters come to a shocking head, she must reach inside herself, find her dancer’s power, and fight back. Blending humor and pathos, A DANCER’S GUIDE TO AFRICA takes the reader along on a suspense-laden, sensual journey through Africa’s complex beauty, mystery and mysticism.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


Plot: Rose's novel is both entertaining and well-plotted. The moderate pacing is a perfect fit—the storyline unfolds exactly as feels natural, and there are no wasted side anecdotes or filler content. The ending will prove highly satisfying to readers.

Prose: Rose's book is composed of beautiful prose, and readers will frequently find themselves re-reading passages to re-experience gorgeously worded sentences. The opening letter is a fabulous way to begin the book, as it both contains an explanation of what is to come and includes much useful contextual information about Gabon. 

Originality: What sets A Dancer's Guide to Africa apart is its original concept. The characters and the setting are unique and exotic, yet also highly relatable because of how they are crafted.

Character Development: The characters mature as the story continues, and the progress they make is both realistic and appealing, causing readers to empathize with them during the events of the book.

Blurb: This book offers an incredibly well-written tale of a woman's adventures and personal growth while working with the Peace Corps in Gabon.

Date Submitted: August 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews

“A nicely observant fish-out-of-water picaresque”

“The author’s … vivid prose and rapt evocations of the African surroundings make the story come alive.”

– Kirkus Reviews