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4.9 out of 5 stars
16
4.9 out of 5 stars


on 6 April 2003
Aidan Chambers makes you tie yourself into knots just thinking. He's not a shy writer; he'll plunge in, tackle anything. His writing falls under the 'so-life-like-it's-scary' category; some of the emotions could have come directly from your secret heart.
Dance on my Grave is about homosexual love, but also about so many other things that it is a slice of life, with all its many strands. It is also funny, in a way that The Toll Bridge, Postcards From No man's Land and Now I Know aren't. I got the giggles for ages in some parts, and still laugh out loud when I think of them; the fight!!!!
But the way he writes is out of this world. His books are going to stay with me all my life.
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on 29 April 2006
I picked up this book when it first came out, started reading it idly - then couldn't put it down. This is a teenage novel, or young adult novel, of considerable and unusual accomplishment. It's also a gay novel, a comic novel, and an experimental novel, too. The story is about Hal Robinson, a sixteen-year old schoolboy, and his dramatic and obsessive love affair with the richer, handsomer, older Barry Gorman. On the first page, we learn that Barry is dead, and that Hal has been arrested for desecrating his grave. In the rest of the novel, we find out why.

Not the least of the novel's attractions is the clever and flexible style in which it is written. Influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and other postmodern writers - with diagrams, cartoons, lists, diary entries, scraps of screenplays and a social worker's reports interspersing Hal's vivid, fast-moving first-person narrative - the book is the second in a sequence of similar novels by Chambers, also comprising Breaktime (1978), Now I Know (1987), The Toll Bridge (1992) and Postcards from No Man's Land (1999). These are not a conventional series: each tells a different story about different characters, and not all the novels include gay themes; but all are experimental in technique and edgy in subject, intelligent books and about intelligent teenagers confronting the world. Aidan Chambers is the real thing. I wish I'd had books like these when I was younger.
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on 10 February 2001
I am 14 and this must be one of my favourite books ever. A lot of authors don't write about gays because they think we're 'too young to understand' but Aidan Chambers is brilliant! He doesn't force it on you in a expicit or demanding way but gives you a lot to think about.
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on 4 June 2013
This book is the best book I've ever read. I read it once when I was 15 or 16, the same age as the youngest of the main characters. And once now that im 20, two years older than the oldest main character. It is written in an way, where the timeline goes back and forward in time all the time. You start at the end of the story, then you read the middle of the book witch wold normally be the start, and then the end. You read through the eyes of Hal (the main character), but also through the eyes of his therapist and newspapers.

The book is about a two gay or bi boys, but the theme of the book is not "Im gay and therefore my live sucks" like many other books about gay men. Its just a love story between two guys.

Again, the best book I've ever read.
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on 30 September 2001
I have only read 3 romances that I like, and this is definitely the best. There are two reasons for this- the first is that it's between two boys rather than a boy and a girl, which makes it less conventional and more surprising in places (it starts off by making you think they're just friends...). The other is that it's set in Southend, where I live. Most of the details about Southend are spot on, although the school that Hal (the narrator) goes to doesn't actually exist. It's a great story, and I would recommend it to any teenager who isn't homophobic.
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on 3 September 2001
If I had to pick one book as my all-time favourite, it would be this one. Aidan Chambers has a wonderful way with words -- I find myself drawn in as much by his creative way of writing as by the story and characters. I've read the book many times, and have probably bought 10 copies over the years to give to friends.
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on 19 March 2000
After losing the original paperback originally bought (around 1982) soon after publication, from a railway station shop for a long journey ahead, I was happy to find this book once again in the early 2000s on Amazon's inventory. For one reason or another, I couldn't source it from the UK site, but my desire to re-read it was so much I replaced it from Amazon's US site. The few weeks wait were well worth it.

I remember ending up transfixed during that train journey, not being able to put it down, even once I'd returned home! Not only was Hal (the main character) experiencing all those questioning emotions I was going through, he was dealing with them! Something I hadn't been able do until I'd finished the book. It was only after reading it I began my own gradual coming out process.

It is a story of self-discovery. There were times I laughed out loud at the comedy with which Hal described his journey and others where I suffered damp eyes. The author deals with many sensitive subjects brilliantly. From the underlying but not "in your face" homosexuality to death - all with a soupçon of humour and a teaspoon of sadness to balance. I would stress for those expecting a full blown descriptive story of homosexuality, this is NOT it. It is not at all porn fodder for a lusty teenager, it is a wonderfully crafted story of events with only allusions to, rather than full on narrative about homosexual acts. It is tenderly written leaving the reader to make up their own mind with their own intelligence about such matters. This book deals inexclusively with homosexuality, death being the main kingpin for the story with asides to other concerns, such as grief, reaction & feelings (not just of the principle protagonist), maturing youth, and future hope.

All in all, this book gives insight to all who find themselves in a dilemma about where inner identity is going to take them during their journey into young adulthood. As was, it gave me the boost I needed to realise I was, after all just another human being. I lapped up this book when I first read it in my mid twenties (yes! It's written in a manner that makes it a must read for all, not just teenageers, much like the Harry Potter series has become) and I shall read it over again, this time in it's digital Kindle form.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 July 2009
Sixteen year old Henry Robinson, he prefers to be called Hal, tells is own story following the death of Barry. His account is primarily for the benefit of his Social Worker, but at the same time is is a means of understanding for himself. He has been arrested for dancing on the grave of his late friend, an a court case is pending.

Hal had know Barry for just seen weeks, following Barry's rescue of Hal from what was not just a dangerous but also and embarrassing situation. Barry, just a little older than Hal, thereupon takes Hal in hand and opens up for him what until then had just existed in his dreams, a love affair, a special and intimate friend; seven weeks of an intense and physical relationship.

Hal's comes across as a most likeable lad, and his account is personal and full of wit, by turns amusing and tragic, occasionally the two are combined in the most hilarious episodes. But what comes over most strongly from Hal's story is the making of a man; we see Hal grow from a boy easily led an influenced to someone who truly knows himself, who knows his pitfalls and is prepared take steps the necessary steps to move on.
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on 5 June 1999
This is one of a few British-published, Britain-based books about gay teenagers currently available (another is Same Difference, a collection published by Mammoth). Aidan Chambers has created in Hal Robinson an acerbic, charismatic wit who speaks for us as Holden Caulfield spoke for so many generations of dissolute teenagers before Hal. This book made me cry, made me laugh, made me dream and wish; after all these many years, it's still as strong in its emotional power, and I recognise more than a little of my own personality in the infatuation and pain that Hal suffers. Where was this when I was growing up? I'm in my 20s now, and if I'd had this as a touchstone, perhaps I'd be a little more mature, a little more aware before now. What a thought-provoking and magical book; I thank fate that brought me to this and to the wonderful Britflick "Get Real", finally providing me with some characters with whom I can identify. Read this, see "Get Real" and begin to make sense of your life.
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on 19 March 2002
A very enjoyable, discreet but interesting story. Exceelent characters and style of writing.
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