“Instructions for Dancing,” the third novel by Jamaican American author Nicola Yoon, has reached the top spot on the New York Times Children’s Books bestseller list. The book, which is recommended for the 12-17 age range, tells the story of Evie Thomas, who has given up on love and joined the La Brea Dance Company, where she meets Xavier. Yoon is best known as the writer of the 2015 young adult novel entitled “Everything, Everything,” which also debuted on the New York Times bestseller list at Number 1 and spent 40 weeks on the list. The book was the basis of a film of the same name released in 2017. Her 2016 novel “The Sun Is Also a Star” was a National Book Award finalist and was also adapted for film.
Yoon told an interviewer at Entertainment Weekly that she came up with the idea for “Instructions for Dancing” during a period in which her mother was very ill. She said she was trying to answer a question she always asks herself: “You love people and you love them so intensely and we’re going to lose them, and do you still want to take that chance? Do you still want to keep loving people, is it worth it?” This relates to Evie’s story in that she is having a difficult time because of the divorce of her parents, who she thought of as the “ultimate couple” and the example for what she thought her own love life could be. She meets a “mysterious bookseller” and begins to see people’s relationships and the history of these relationships, coming to the conclusion that things always end. She then meets “this very cute boy” in a ballroom dance class who calls himself X. “And they have to dance together and that is where I shall leave it,” she said.
Yoon expressed her gratitude to her fans on Twitter, posting, “You guys, I don’t even know what to say. I’m so emotional I’m not gonna be eloquent at all. Thank you so much for reading my book & for caring about it & for sharing it. Thanks for showing up for me after almost 5 years. You are all really wonderful.”
Nicola Yoon was raised in Jamaica and in Brooklyn. She attended Cornell University where she majored in electrical engineering, but once she took a creative writing class, she became “hooked on writing.” Following her graduation from Cornell, she attended Emerson College’s Master of Creative Writing program. Yoon then worked as a programmer for investment management companies for two decades before publishing her first book. She wrote her first novel “Everything, Everything,” after the birth of her biracial daughter, wanting to write a book that reflected her child. Yoon lives in Los Angeles with her daughter and her husband, David Yoon. She is associated with the We Need Diverse Books organization, which promotes the concept of diversity in literature. She was a contributor to “Because You Love to Hate Me,” a short story anthology written by 13 young-adult authors who were paired with 13 BookTubers who provided writing prompts. The book was published in 2017. She recently signed a deal with Anonymous Content with David Yoon.
Photo: David Yoon & Nicola Yoon