Book Review: Dancing with Ana + Author Interview

Dancing with Ana
by Nicole Barker

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From the author's website:

Beth is a lucky girl…

She comes from a loving family. She has three best friends. She loves to surf and lives five minutes from the beach. She also recently discovered that the boy she’s grown up with has the most amazing green eyes…
Beth has every reason to smile. Every reason to be happy. Every reason to feel blessed.

Then why is she sticking her fingers down her throat?

Sixteen year old Beth Baxter’s life merely resembles the one she’s always known. Her father has left. She is falling for Jeremy Duscana and the diet she started has somehow turned into an obsession. Yet her three best friends remain the same, always there for her.

But even their love can’t save her from herself.

Dancing With Ana. A story about the journey to acceptance of one’s own reality, the incredible bond that exists between friends and a love that truly endures all things.

I really was pulled into the story from the start. It's mainly about Beth and her three best friends. They admire one of the prettiest girls at school, who stays thin by not eating. The girls decide to all go on a diet, but it turns into something worse than that. Especially for Beth.

Beth's dad has left her mom, her brother and her for his secretary. This book deals with divorce, teen sex, underage drinking, relationships, cutting, and much much more.

The only thing was that this book wrapped up a little too well. Usually teenagers don't just bounce back from these types of situations. But I can see where it would be good for a teen going through these issues to read this book – to see that there is a way to do it themselves, to believe that they can stop those habits and situations.


Interview with Nicole Barker

Nicole Barker grew up in Portland, Oregon and attended Southern Oregon State College in the town of Ashland. Nestled in the foothills of the Siskiyou Mountains, Nicole took to writing while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities with a strong emphasis on early childhood development. Shortly after graduation, she spent several months traveling around the United States and parts of Canada. Nicole now lives in South Florida with her husband, two kids, two dogs, toads, frogs, hermit crabs and fish. She is currently working on her second YA book.

When did you decide to become a writer and why?

I've always enjoyed writing, ever since I was a little girl. It became more consistent in college, then sporadic when my kids were younger. About five years ago I really focused and have been writing ever since.

Tell me a bit about what your book is about.

Dancing With Ana is the story of a sixteen year-old girl named Beth Baxter and her three best friends, Jenny, Rachel and Melanie. They've been friends since they were little and have a very strong bond. About a year prior to when this story takes place, Beth's father left them for another woman. His sudden abandonment threw her into a state of shock. As the numbness wears off, Beth decides to distract herself by attempting to lose ten pounds with an extreme “diet”. At the same time, she's discovering new, intense feelings for Jeremy, the boy who's lived across the street from her all her life.

What made you decide to tackle such a difficult topic in your book?

Anorexia is more common than people realize. I wanted to write a story that depicted how easily it can slip into a person's life. I also felt it was important to focus more on the reason than the disease itself.



Can you explain a little bit of the way you tackled writing Dancing with Ana?


If a thought, idea, sentence or even just a word came to me, I stopped everything I was doing and wrote. Sometimes I wrote for thirty minutes, sometimes I wrote for hours and hours. When I write, everything else ceases to exist. Some days, I would make it just in time to pick my kids up from school. There was a lot of take-out.


What advice can you give to aspiring writers?


Every person has a story inside of them, there's no reason why you shouldn't share yours.


Anything else you would like to tell your readers?


I love hearing from you!



Thanks Nicole for allowing me to interview you! You can learn more about Nicole over at her website for Dancing With Ana.



Kristen is the co-blog owner of The Book Monsters. Kristen is an Elementary School Library Media Specialist in the Chicago suburbs who loves reading. Why else would she be a librarian?

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15 responses to “Book Review: Dancing with Ana + Author Interview

  1. Stephanie Faris

    Sounds like a great book. I’ve noticed all too often teen books have to be all wrapped up neatly by the end. Even if the book doesn’t have a happy ending, it has to have some sort of cozy message for the readers.

  2. rhapsodyinbooks

    Great review! I think Stephanie is right. Probably the reality can be just too grim and parents might not even agree to let such books on the shelves! I too would be disappointed at such an ending, but on the other hand, if a teen in trouble happened to read it, it might be good to offer some hope.

  3. Icedream

    It’s so sad that these body issues still affect so many girls. I am always thrilled when an author can write a good book that addresses them. Great interview with Nicole and I am glad you posted it.

  4. katie

    Wow. This is the first time I have read the plot for this book and it sounds amazing. I keep seeing it on blogs and now I know. I will have to check it out. Awesome interview, by the way!

  5. Sandra

    A very interesting story, and I love the cover. I haven’t done author interviews myself but find them interesting. i really like your rating with roses. I’ve got a poll about rating systems going right now. I voted in yours-even though I’m new to your blog. Have a good week.

  6. Mishel (P.S. I Love Books)

    I’ll be reading this book soon and I’m really excited about it. I just love the cover =)

  7. Casey

    I haven’t heard much about this book, but it sounds really interesting. I like the books with a powerful, realistic story that makes you think. Great review!

  8. Casey

    I like how she wants to focus on the reason instead of the disease. We all know what anorexia is, but we don’t know what makes a person turn to that. Great interview!

  9. Rebecca :)

    Wonderful review and interview! I am really liking your blog!

    I am putting this book on my TBR list. Anorexia is definitely more common than people realize, as all eating disorders are. Someone in my family has an overeating disorder, which is basically never talked about. It is hard to find information on it even on medical sites and eating disorder sites other than “it exists.” Thanks to Barker for tackling such an important topic!

  10. April (BooksandWine)

    Excellent review and interview. I’m not sure how I feel about teen “issue” books, because sometimes it seems like preaching, but hey if the writing is good, and it seems to be, I’d be willing to give it a shot. 🙂

  11. katie

    I keep seeing this on blogs but I haven’t seen it in stores. I really want to read it and your interview was great.

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