3 out of 4 stars
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Self-discovery is a life-long journey. Some people realize immediately that they are not meant to fit in and that they are a bit weird or queer. Some people pretend not to notice their weird parts and try their best to fit into social constructs till they cannot pretend anymore; this was Dan Juday. Waltzing a Two-Step by Dan Juday is a memoir of the author’s journey to accepting himself and all his queer parts. The author wrote the book in three parts. In part one, he talks about his family, including a brief explanation of his family tree and some events in his early childhood. Part two explains how the Catholic faith with which he was brought up had affected his early life leading up to adulthood. In part three, the author, Dan Juday, shares more experiences of his adult life, both abroad and as a struggling returnee.
Waltzing a Two-Step left me wistful. The author narrated his story in a seemingly detached manner like he watched his life’s experiences in a film and was narrating the film. I found his awkwardness endearing. I was a bit confused in the beginning when the author introduced his grandparents from both the Juday and Boyle families, but as I read further, I felt like I had found a kindred spirit in the author. The author’s writing style was simple, and his sentences flowed perfectly and allowed me to get the best of the author’s journey. The author explored the primary themes of self-acceptance and self-discovery deftly. I understood the author’s need to fit in; even though he knew he was attracted to men, he tried to maintain heterosexual relationships to please everyone else but himself.
I noted other themes that the author tried to explore, including the themes of loss, love, adventure, struggle, and racism. The author properly expressed the predominant themes earlier mentioned. But except for the themes of racism and the influence of politics, the secondary themes did not get much justice in their expression. I was especially immersed in the book when the author talked about his childhood up until he got into college. I was also excited to travel to Spain with him. It felt like I was present with the author while he had an out-of-body trip down memory lane.
However, in part three, the story lost me, especially when the author decided to focus on his teaching days. I had expected to follow the author through his different finding and loss of love. When he lost his first love, the author mentioned in passing that he eventually went on to experience more profound loss, and I hoped that the story would walk me down the path of his loves gained and lost. But I was left unsatisfied with the ending that the author decided on; it felt abrupt. Also, I felt that in part three, Juday focused a bit too much on his life as a teacher. I would have liked to see more of his experiences outside being a teacher.
Because this book read to me like it could use more details, I have deducted one star and rate it 3 out of 4. There is nothing else I dislike about this book. The editors did an exceptional job since I could not find any errors, and the sentences flowed beautifully. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy memoirs that touch on self-discovery. Queer people who need encouragement to be themselves will find a friend in this story. Readers who are uncomfortable with LGBTQ+ content will want to skip reading this book.
Wattzing A Two-Step
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