Book Review: According to Kit by Eugenie Doyle

Kit can’t believe her mother would force her to stay home and be homeschooled just because a classmate at her high school pulled a knife on another student. She doesn’t want to stay home and spend even more time helping take care of the dairy farm she lives on with her mother, father and grandfather. And when homeschooling turns out to be not much schooling, since no one actually has time to spare to work with Kit on lessons, she ends up on her own a lot of the time.

But at least Kit can lose herself in her ballet lessons she takes at the local college…that is until her beloved teacher Ursula becomes sick and can no longer teach. Graduate students pick up the slack, but it’s not nearly as fulfilling for Kit as Ursula’s classes were. When Luis arrives with his wife and baby to take over the class, Kit is enthralled by his attention to her. Luis sees her potential and encourages her to audition for a prestigious art school in Montreal, Canada, a long drive and a world away from her Vermont farm.

Predictably, Kit’s mother says no, but Kit is full of newfound confidence and a desire to dance. Plus, she wants to live up to Luis’s expectations, and she can’t let no be the answer.

According to Kit by Eugenie Doyle highlights the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. How much does a mother open up to reveal herself to her daughter? What dreams for her future does a daughter share with her mother? When the two have different visions for the daughter’s life, how can they reconcile their conflicting desires for what’s best?

According to Kit also juxtaposes two very different pursuits—farming and ballet—and manages to show the rewards and challenges of both. It shows Kit’s longing for a mother who will talk to her and share her emotions, not hold everything inside as she carries with her a long-ago personal tragedy. There’s lots to discuss here for mother and daughters. Despite one scene near the end of the book where Luis aggressively comes onto Kit sexually, a scene that seems out of place and under-addressed for its impact, I recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls 14 and up.

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