Dancing Barefoot

Alice Boyle

Dancing Barefoot
Text Publishing Co
30 August 2022

Dancing Barefoot

Alice Boyle

Shortlisted for The Readings Young Adult Prize 2023

Evie Vanhoutte is a teachers’ pet, a basketball star and the most beautiful girl in the year level. Evie Vanhoutte is tall, has long dark hair, a great smile, and for the past four years, Evie Vanhoutte has been the object of my most ardent, heartfelt, and passionate affection. Unrequited affection, of course.

Patch is out of place at Mountford College – she wears the wrong clothes, she’s not sporty or popular, she lives in a small flat above her dad’s record shop a world away from the leafy suburb where she goes to school. And she has a secret long-term crush on basketball star Evie Vanhoutte. Evie barely knows Patch exists until an accident involving a bottle of ink and Patch’s school uniform sparks a friendship that’s equal parts exhilarating and terrifying, and very, very confusing.

As if that weren’t enough, Patch is also trying to deal with a jealous school bully, forgetting to be supportive of her transitioning best friend, Edwin, and worrying about how a potential new stepmother could throw everything off course.

Dancing Barefoot is a feel-good romance about growing up queer, figuring out your place in the world, staying true to yourself and your friends, finding love, and learning to embrace the obstacles life throws in your path.


If you’re ever in the need for a feel-good, heartfelt romance, or simply a book to cosy up to like a warm, fuzzy blanket by the fireside, I recommend Dancing Barefoot.

Patch is in deep, serious trouble (something surely no other teenager except her can understand): she’s in love and her crush doesn’t know it. For four years Evie Vanhoutte, the stunning and smart basketball star of Mountford College, has been the object of Patch’s desires. And so, of course, the only way the universe finally aligns these two together is through the humiliating experience of a bottle of ink ruining Patch’s school uniform. But the exhilarating and terrifying friendship that sparks from this encounter is disrupted by multiple other events in Patch’s life: a jealous school bully; Patch’s transitioning best friend who feels neglected in a time when they need support; and her new stepmother who threatens to ruin everything.

What’s so heart-melting and cosy about this novel is how supportive and loving all the characters are. Although there are many incredible queer YA stories with unique narratives and voices, many of them explore the homophobia and transphobia inflicted towards the queer protagonists, and the daily struggles they endure from their peers and sometimes family. While these issues are important to address and shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed, it is also important for adolescents today to discover and read about characters who are proud of their sexuality and are surrounded by an encouraging, nurturing community, so as to feel more comfortable and empowered in their identity.

Beautifully written with a natural laugh-out-loud humour, Dancing Barefoot encapsulates the angst and seemingly apocalyptic emotions teenagers feel towards love. For ages 13+.

Aurelia Orr is from Readings Kids

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