Dancing with Sophia

Fiction - Inspirational
217 Pages
Reviewed on 09/24/2017
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Baingana was a lost soul, wandering through life, unsure of himself and his place in the world. Whatever could go wrong in his life seemed to have gone wrong; he’d lost his job, his parents were furious with him, his friends seemed superficial and self-centred, and his girlfriend, Zoe, had broken up with him. To Baingana, it seemed that life truly had it in for him and he decided the only solution was to run away to his best friend Besim’s town and try to start anew. In Dancing with Sophia by Ramalho Almeida, the author takes Baingana, along with us fortunate readers, on a journey that will forever change his attitude and his view of life, humanity, and his place in the world.

I love it when an author weaves a personal philosophy into a fictional tale and that is exactly what Almeida has done with Dancing with Sophia. Whether you accept or believe the philosophy is irrelevant, it is the journey that is important and the examination of Baingana’s motives and views. What the author has done beautifully in this book is to entwine a philosophy that appears to have some of its roots in the Law of Attraction into a mystical journey through several stages, where Baingana meets first the old man, Abner, the child, Inesa, and finally the young woman, Sophia. At each level, he learns and understands more about himself and his relationship to the rest of humanity, until finally he is ready for the ultimate experience – to dance with Sophia. This book is beautifully written and perhaps the best part of all is the ten wonderful poems that underscore the prose throughout the story. I loved this story and the way Almeida told it. I highly recommend this book. If you liked the Life of Pi, you’ll love Dancing with Sophia.

Marta Tandori

A deeply satisfying journey to self-discovery is probably the most accurate way to describe Ramalho Almeida’s delightful book, Dancing with Sophia. At almost 30 years old, Baingana’s life is on the fast track to nowhere. Still living at home, he’s an administrative assistant for a marketing company, a job where he’s considered less than the model employee. Baingana also has a long-suffering girlfriend called Zoe, who loves him with all her heart, yet is tired of being ignored while he spends most of his time in the bars with his friends after work. He simply coasts through life without motivation or aspirations. However, all this abruptly changes one day after Baingana is fired from his job after angrily hanging up on a client in mid-rant, right on the heels of Zoe breaking up with him. Things become tense at home once his parents learn that Baingana has been fired from his job so he decides to go and stay with his best friend, Besim. While waiting at the station for his train, Baingana’s attention is drawn to a beautiful young woman about to board a train, with an old man and young girl in tow. After smiling at him, she boards the train and Baingana, smitten by her, impulsively follows her onto the train, unaware that his life is about to change forever…

The character of Baingana is somewhat like a block of unformed clay. It needs the skillful hands of an artist with insight to shape and mold it into something of substance and beauty. Almeida is that artist. At the beginning of Baingana’s story, he’s a brash and self-centered young man whose life holds little meaning or purpose but unlike most, Baingana actually sees the folly of his ways. He just doesn’t know what to do to change it and, like many of us, he blames everyone else but himself for his predicament. Ramalho Almeida’s book is beautifully written, despite the prose being slightly awkward at times. The author gives us a brash young man who is forced to take stock of his life and be truthful to himself in order for him to find meaning and purpose and, of course, love. At some point in our lives, we are all forced to take stock of our lives and it’s this key element that resonates so well with Almeida’s story. Dancing with Sophia touches the reader’s heart and soul.

Vernita Naylor

Have you ever met someone so intriguing that you have to be near them? You can't put your finger on it, but something mysterious about them just draws you in. Dancing with Sophia by Ramalho Almeida is about love and the alluring attraction that Baingana quickly feels for Sophia, even though he doesn't know her. Little did Baingana know that the old man, Abner, would not only help in bringing him closer to accomplishing his ultimate goal with Sophia, but would also prepare and heal him in such a way that once he dances with Sophia, it will all be worth it. The lovely poems in this book speak the beautiful language of human nature.

This book is a great depiction of how, if we begin to view life through the eyes of healing, love and forgiveness, we can see opportunities, hope and possibilities. Abner knew that Baingana was not ready to dance with Sophia so when he gave Baingana the letter, Abner knew that the words on the page were the beginning for Baingana to create a mental and physical paradigm of responsibility and accountability. Little did Baingana know that he possessed more innate abilities to transform his life than he had in the past, and that Sophia was not as important as his own self-worth. I also enjoyed learning the meanings of the beautiful names, and the wonderful poems that were sprinkled throughout the book that added a special touch.