Dancing with Butterflies

A Novel

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Dancing with Butterflies uses the alternating voices of four very different women whose lives interconnect through a common passion for their Mexican heritage and a dance company called Alegría. Yesenia, who founded Alegría with her husband, Eduardo, sabotages her own efforts to remain a vital, vibrant woman when she travels back and forth across the Mexican border for cheap plastic surgery. Elena, grief stricken by the death of her only child and the end of her marriage, finds herself falling dangerously in love with one of her underage students. Elena's sister, Adriana, wears the wounds of abandonment by a dys-functional family and becomes unable to discern love from abuse. Soledad, the sweet-tempered illegal immigrant who designs costumes for Alegría, finds herself stuck back in Mexico, where she returns to see her dying grandmother.

Reyna Grande has brought these fictional characters so convincingly to life that readers will imagine they know them.
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  • Washington Square Press | 
  • 416 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439109069 | 
  • October 2009
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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

A dancer, more than any other human being, dies two deaths: the first, the physical when the powerfully trained body will no longer respond as you would wish. —MARTHA GRAHAM

THIS is what it comes down to.

The sweat. The blisters on your feet. The aching of your arms from practicing the skirtwork. The hours and hours rehearsing the same song until the music buries itself so deeply in your brain youhear it even in your sleep. The constant need to coax your body to move past the hurt, the frustration, the exhaustion, and convince it that it can do more . . .

All that is... see more

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Dancing with Butterflies includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Reyna Grande. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Folklórico, traditional Mexican dance, bring together four women in Los Angeles. Yesenia and her husband lead Alegría, a successful Folklórico dance group, but Yesenia’s arthritic knee keeps her offstage and restless in her marriage. Sisters Elena and Adriana grew up dancing in Alegría, but bitterness over their difficult childhood has soured their relationship. And Soledad, the group’s costume designer, is determined to open a dress shop in L.A., even though she is in the U.S. illegally.

Tragedy strikes each of these four women, leaving Alegría’s future in doubt. Yesenia tries to reshape her body through cut-rate plastic surgery in Tijuana. Elena’s new marriage breaks up after her baby is stillborn, and instead of dancing through her grief, she lusts after an underage dancer. Adriana, missing her abusive father, chases oblivion through a series of dangerous relationships. Soledad sacrifices her career dreams to bid goodbye to her ailing grandmother, but, tr see more

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