The Death of a Disco Dancer by David ClarkReviewed by Bridget
Language: References to “Nuts” and “Balls” from the junior high school narrator, Todd Whitman.
Violence: After an explosion in the mine shaft, the recovered miner’s bodies were laid out on the dance floor. The junior high school P.E. teacher paddles Todd on the first day of school.
Sexual Content: Todd Whitman has a crush on Jenny Gillette.
Adult Themes: An allusion to Todd’s grandmother and grandfather nearly ending their marriage, many years prior; forgiveness prevailed. Todd’s mother is the caregiver for her mother who is suffering from dementia. Todd returns home to be at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying.
One night, eleven-year-old Todd Whitman receives a terrifying but hilarious midnight visitor: his cockatoo-plumed, dementia-stricken, John Travolta-smitten Grandma Carter. In constant nocturnal search of the mysterious “Dancer,” Grandma clutches her absurdly precious Saturday Night Fever album cover and giggles her way through the dance steps of her youth.
When forty-something Todd returns home to help his dying mother, he reflects on that pivotal summer of 1981: the unique relationship he developed with his grandmother, the chaos of finding his place in a large Mormon family, the near misses of impressing the one-and-only Jenny Gillette, and the utter social catastrophe of junior high.
Ultimately, despite the ups and downs of life, Todd finds peace and strength through the selfless and dedicated lives of his grandmother and mother.
I love this book! Clark perfectly captures the torture and hilarity of navigating adolescence and the perpetual change of family ties. Simply beautiful. I read passages aloud to my husband, Rob. I read other passages aloud to my children and finally, the bathroom inspection passage, I read aloud to anyone within an audible range, even though I was barely capable of reading, due to uncontrollable laughter. I enjoyed Clark’s writing style and ability to weave Todd’s experience navigating junior high school with the deeper, beautiful story of his relationship with his mother and grandmother. I look forward to reading the sequel.
This is my holiday gift of choice for my dear friends and family!
If you want to read an interview with the author, here is the link.