iUniverse Publishing (July 7, 2011) 236 pages
Social phobia: Excessive fear of embarrassment in social situations that is extremely intrusive and can have debilitating effects on personal and professional relationships.
The symptoms and signs of social phobia include blushing, sweating, trembling, rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, nausea or other stomach discomfort, lightheadedness, and other symptoms of anxiety.
I've suffered with social phobia my entire life, so when I discovered Dancing on the Inside was about a young girl with social phobia, I knew I had to read it. Jenny is the main character, and she really wants to dance ballet. Dancing on the Inside is her journey of discovering what she can do to deal with her phobia.
I really wish this book was around when I was younger. I didn't understand that I had a social phobia. I just thought I was really weird, and it was a struggle. It still is!!!!!! It is HARD living with social phobia! (And for the record, I was NOT home-schooled. I went to public school). If you know a young girl who you think even might be suffering with social phobia, PLEASE get her this book. It won't take the phobia away, but it will help her know that she's not alone. Simply understanding what's wrong and that there are others with the same problem is help all by itself. I honestly don't know if social phobia can be "cured", though.
Social Phobia goes way beyond being shy. It's important to know that people with social phobia are completely normal on the inside!! We're just as unique and quirky and fun as all the outgoing people out there. Our bodies just don't allow us to express who we really are when we're out in public or around people other than close family and friends, and many times not even then. It's very frustrating! Dancing on the Inside gives you a very tiny glimpse of what it's like for someone with social phobia.
"Show me how to be like you. So I can see how it feels."While I'm a tiny bit different than that description, it gives you a good idea of what it's like. I tend to have to keep myself from running to "my spot" in the back corner. I don't typically move slowly, because the slower I move, the more chance others have to see me. I also have to enter a room with "blinders" on. I can't think about other people or I wouldn't be able to enter the room, period.
Jenny had never tried to explain how it was to be her before. "I don't know how."
Ara jumped off the bed and walked to the door. "Okay, pretend I'm you walking into the dance studio." She mimed walking to the door, head down, twisting a lock of hair around her forefinger. "What am I doing wrong?"
Jenny laughed and then began to study her. "Well, to start with, you're walking too fast. You're worried about who might be in the room already and whether they like you enough to want you to be there. You figure they probably don't, so you go slow and hope to sneak in without attracting too much attention so they won't notice you and start making fun of you."
Ara tried it again more slowly. "Okay, what else?"
"You need to hang your head a little lower to one side. Close your body in a bit more. Try to make yourself invisible."
Ara changed her body language to match Jenny's description.
"Now look for a spot to sit away from everyone else, where you can feel completely hidden but watch everything."
If you decide to read this book, and I hope you do, it's important to know that it's a "quiet" book. It's not filled with action. It pretty much only deals with ballet and Jenny's phobia. You get a very BIG dose of ballet in this book. In fact, most of the book takes place at the ballet studio. I don't know a thing about ballet, but the author really seemed to have done his research or already knows a lot about it. To be honest, all the ballet words just went right over my head.
I can't recommend this book without warning that I do think reading it needs to result in a parent/child discussion! Jenny and her new friends Ara do a good bit of lying and scheming in the story. Sometimes, it's just Jenny and sometimes, it's both of them. Some of their decisions were just dangerous. At one point, Jenny makes it clear that while she does feel guilty about lying, she would do it again, because it was for something that she really wants. I wouldn't want a child to come away from reading this book thinking they should lie to get things they really want. Parent/child communication is key! There's also a very brief comment about every girl and boy NEEDING a career, because without money, there's no happiness. I won't go into detail, but I both agree and disagree with the comment. If you read this book, and run up on that paragraph, just know it did cause me to stop and think about whether I disliked it or not.
All of that said, it's real! Very few, if any, children are going to make it through life without getting into some mischief. I also know that most children out there wouldn't change what they've been taught by reading something different in a book. I still just wanted to mention it.
I found Dancing on the Inside to be an educational experience even as an adult, so I definitely recommend reading it, or getting it for a young girl or boy(if he's interested in ballet). There is a boy in the ballet class, but he's really barely mentioned through the story. I'm really looking forward to finding more social phobia books out there, and I'm extremely glad I read this one!
*I was provided a review copy through the Pump Up Your Book tour in exchange for my honest opinion.