Reviewer’s Notes: Rebecca Yelland is an independent author from California currently living on the east coast. Among other things, she’s worked in human resources for over two decades. She self-published “Dancing at Midnight: The Life of June Parker,” in October 2016. It’s received rave reviews and won an Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion for Literary Fiction. She released the sequel to “Dancing at Midnight,” in September 2017. It will be reviewed by Peak Story Reviews at a later date.
The majority of “Dancing at Midnight: The Life of June Parker,” is told through the diary of June Parker, as read by her daughter, Carolyn Graves. Carolyn is settling June’s estate when she stumbles on the diary entries and realizes her mother had a past she never knew of. This raw, rattling story transcends genre and leaves the reader feeling as though they just gained entry into the innermost thoughts of two strong and stubborn women.
For me, the story picked up about a quarter of the way through and from that point forward I couldn’t put it down. I had a feeling something awful might happen to the main character or her mother, as experienced through the mother’s diary entries. My feeling (based on the tension Yelland builds) was right. The awful event is more than just a shocker to add conflict, though, it’s a catalyst for a journey of self-reflection and growth and it changes the main character’s life forever.
I have a saying for authors that take me inside a person’s mind so convincingly I forget I’m reading: “going deep.” And I love when I feel like I’m being taken on a relationship-focused journey that still has a tight plot, and Yelland does this like a pro. I can tell her experience in human resources and life has given her a toolbox of information and perspective. Both June Parker and Carolyn Graves fill this story with their emotions and they are so real, so big, so beautiful and so representative of the human experience that you’ll want to grab the sequel right away.
I’m still not sure how to handle content warnings. Some of my readers are vehemently opposed to them and some demand them with very persuasive arguments.
So as not to trigger anyone: this story contains references to mental illness and sexual abuse, among other things. It is not gratuitously violent and does not linger on those scenes in which violence occurs.