3 out of 4 stars
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In Dancing with Sophia, by Ramalho Almeida, we meet Baingana. He is a self-absorbed young man, which results in him being fired from his job and dumped by his girlfriend. Baingana then decides to take a trip to visit a friend and try to start a new chapter in his life. While waiting on a platform, he sees a beautiful woman boarding a train and is inexorably drawn to her. He jumps onto it but then cannot find her. An old man intercepts him and indicates that he is the father of the elusive woman, whose name is Sophia.
Most of the story consists of a series of dialogues between Baingana and the three characters he meets on his journey. First there is Abner, Sophia’s father. He tells Baingana that he is not yet ready to “dance with Sophia” and sets about teaching him concepts for developing a disciplined mind. Baingana then meets Inesa, Abner’s granddaughter. He learns some important lessons from her about the human heart. Finally, he meets Sophia. She provides wisdom about how to live an authentic life, care about others and be true to yourself. While his “journey” with the three appears to have been a dream, he returns to his life with a different view of the world.
I really liked the way in which the author portrayed the characters of Abner, Inesa and Sophia. I also enjoyed some of the ideas imparted by them. My favorite quote is when Inesa says, “The best thing you can offer to a person is your acknowledgment that a better alternative is always possible.”
Unfortunately, there were some passages that disrupted the flow of the narrative and thus my enjoyment of it. The novel has a fair number “run on” sentences. Also, some sentences are awkwardly worded. For example, “Whatever situation you face, you won’t complain about it because humbleness provides you with the understanding that you don’t know what your life is supposed to be.” Humbleness is actually a word, but I think humility would have been a better choice in this case.
I would recommend this novel to those who have an interest in stories where the main character undergoes a spiritual journey. It might be particularly enlightening to those who have not previously read books of this nature. For those who are already familiar with the type of ideas laid out in the book, the refresher course should still be enjoyable.
I rate Dancing with Sophia 3 out of 4 stars. This novel is not the first one to use a fictional setting to communicate spiritual concepts. However, I didn’t feel that there was anything especially new or unique about the ideas being conveyed. Thus, I felt reluctant to rate it four stars. Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and would read other works by this author.
Dancing with Sophia
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