Christyna Hunter’s debut novel The Butterfly’s Dance is a refreshing take on shattered dreams and the human response of making the best of one’s life, whatever is thrown at it. Dancing was Kayla Jennings dream from when she was a child, but an accident at age 12 changed everything. She lost the use of her legs. Her dream hadn’t changed, but her life had.
As a grown-up, Kayla has great looks, a sense of humor, a best friend who’s like a sister, and a great job as vocational rehabilitation counselor. She has everything; except a man to love. When 18-year-old James, who has MS, comes to her office for help; Kayla is stunned by his caregiver and uncle Jordon.
As she began to greet James Michaels, another man walked in and shut the door. As he turned, she took in a quick breath of admiration. Okay lust. She would admit, only to herself, it was lust that caused her breathing to halt and her mouth to water. (8)
Past experience reminds her there is little possibility for a meaningful relationship between the abled and the disabled and she pushes herself into the cocoon where she’d kept herself so comfortably sheltered.
As she tried to concentrate on the file of the next client, Jordan Michaels kept permeating her thoughts. It made her uncomfortable. Her experiences with men were short, yet painful. But as she listed every reason why she should forget about him, her mind help pulling up Jordan’s face, with his irresistible smile and his vivid blue eyes. (11)
Hunter’s character descriptions are short, yet convey a lasting image.
Kayla glanced over at her best friend. Ringlets of copper hair bobbed around Maggie’s face as she scrutinized Kayla through thin-rimmed spectacles.(15)
Hunter has Kayla experience all the pain, frustration, self-doubt, and humiliation that the disabled confront on a daily basis. That isn’t all. The kindness, determination, understanding, and humor in her characters outweigh their personal boundaries. And Kayla isn’t the only character with shattered dreams wishing for change in life.
But as he relaxed, that image of Kayla Jennings entered his mind again. He’d studied her as she and Jim spoke the day before. She sounded as if she knew what she was talking about. She seemed willing to help Jim. And whenever Jordan spoke to her, she became shy. Imagine someone being shy around him? He was just an ordinary guy. An ordinary guy, with a sick nephew, a stack of medical bills, a business to run, and a frustrated libido. Yeah, just your everyday, ordinary guy.(19-20)
The Butterfly’s Dance takes you on a relaxing and refreshing ride through the eyes, heart, and soul of a wheelchair-bound young woman into a romance she never thought possible. Together, Kayla and Jordan battle with the insecurities of their pasts to develop a long, lasting, and loving relationship.
Hunter’s characters are real and true to heart. Readers will find themselves feeling the pain, experiencing the frustration, and reveling in the spirit of possibilities. There’s even a chance that Hunter’s book may lend a hand in human response and open the eyes of everyone, with or without disabilities. Whether Hunter meant to deliver a lesson in her book or not, there is the straightforward fact that people are whole human beings, regardless of their capabilities: it just takes some longer to realize, and those that never do are those who miss out on the joys life can bring and the wonderful people who can be a part of those joys.