Review | Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“Happiness is tricky. Sometimes you have to fight for it. Sometimes, though—the best times—it sneaks up behind you, wraps an arm around your waist and pulls you close.”

‘Instructions for Dancing’ by Nicola Yoon is a beautiful yet heartbreaking story about love and life

Nicola Yoon does it again. I’ve already read all of her books, so I should know she writes such wonderful yet heartbreaking stories. Yoon writes so smoothly that I flew through this book in a day. Instructions for Dancing- like all her other books – could easily be made into a film, that’s how good a writer Nicola Yoon is.

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Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began… and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?


The cover of this book is breathtaking. The cover alone is a valid reason to buy Instructions for Dancing.

The storyline of Instructions for Dancing is very beautiful and also important. Evie learns a lot in this book and at the end is no longer the same person as in the beginning. In Instructions for Dancing, Evie has to deal with her parents’ divorce. She discovers that her father is cheating on her mother and that he wants a divorce. Because of this, she no longer believes in true love. At the beginning of the story, Evie is “cursed” and sees the full course of couples’ relationship when the two people kiss. I found this magical touch that was added to the story very much in line with the message of Dancing for Beginners.

Both the main and side characters were very well put together. There is diversity in it, both in terms of ethnicity and sexuality. I enjoyed Evie and X as main characters. I also really liked following Evie’s best friends, especially Martin.

Yoon’s writing style, just like the world building, is fantastic again in Instructions for Dancing. Nicola Yoon writes very visually, which makes it only logical that all her books have already been filmed. You see everything she writes for you, which in such heartbreaking stories is very beautiful but emotional.

Still, at times it felt like something was missing. Something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe at times it went just a little too fast for me or I missed the link with dancing. I liked the idea of Evie and Xavier entering a dance competition together, but the story could have been done without that element. At times I forgot—and felt like the author forgot too—that they were going to be in a contest like that.

I thought the ending of Instructions for Dancing was very beautiful, but sad. I shed a tear here too. Be sure to check out the trigger warnings, because I was not aware of which topics were going to be offered in the book and was therefore occasionally triggered.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, this was a very nice book. Pay attention to the trigger warnings for this book though!


Trigger warnings
Alcohol (underage), cheating, death (mentioned), divorce, grief
Black main and side characters, mixed side characters
Romance, contemporary (young adult)
Publication date
June 1st 2021
Delacorte Press
About the author
Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Both her novels have been made into major motion pictures. Nicola grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, novelist David Yoon, and their family.

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