Reader reviews and comments on When The Elephants Dance, plus links to write your own review.

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When The Elephants Dance

By Tess Uriza Holthe

When The Elephants Dance
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  • Hardcover: Jan 2002,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Jul 2003,
    368 pages.

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There are currently 13 reader reviews for When The Elephants Dance
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BabyGirl_Bookluvr92 (09/19/07)

I loved it
This book is awesome and anyone who doesn't like it, just don't know what they're reading and how true and realistic this is.
Nathan Rafael (10/08/06)

When the Editors Stumble
While I found the subject matter of Tess Uriza Holthe's novel, When the Elephants Dance, compelling and engaging, I cannot say the same for her writing skills. Overwrought and flat, her narrative drags down what could have been a page-turner to a page-shuffler. I put this book aside many times, and if I had not made the commitment to read it for my book group I would not have finished it.
Ms. Holthe had several stories to tell, and she earns points for weaving them together adequately (though not seamlessly, as the transitions sometimes feel forced), but she lacks an ear for language and rhythm, and an essential sense of pacing. How, for example, does the reader benefit from multiple references to a starving character's grumbling stomach (all within a few pages)? Once or twice the information is duly noted, but after the seventh or eighth, perhaps tenth time, it becomes highly annoying. A reference to a wife "big with child" occurs three times in one paragraph! Repetition does not enhance, but rather seriously detracts from the forcefulness of the story, unless it is accomplished in some poetic way, definitely not the case under Holthe's leaden pen. We do not need a blow-by-blow description to feel engaged in a tale, we need leaner prose, more concise action, economy of language. Also, too many characters to keep straight muddle the plot, especially when the way they express themselves does not vary significantly.
This book required serious copy-editing that, amazingly, did not happen. Translations from Tagalog and Spanish to English are excessive and seem stilted. And totally unforgiveable are the many references to "caribou", or arctic reindeer. I kept wondering what they were doing in the tropical Philippines? After a few hundred pages, the puzzle was finally solved: the author meant "carabao", or water buffalo! Where was the editor? Asleep at the controls. Harrowing tales of survival in brutal wartime and occupation are not enough when expressed ineffectively. This novel should have been at least a hundred pages shorter, if Holthe and her editors had done their work properly.
Rob (02/26/05)

this is the single most stupidest boring book in the world. never let anyone be subjected to this boring book. NEVER
Emily (02/16/05)

So0o0o boring...god help me i have to read 100 more pages..TONIGHT....
marj (02/14/05)

im in ninth grade, this book is by far one of the best i have ever read
Cheryl Lingbanan, UCSC (11/06/04)

I read the book 3 years ago and I can still say that this is my favorite book ever...

I can still remember the first time I read the novel...I laughed, I cried...
The time and setting was described beautifully. Some of the events and images brought me back to the stories that were told by both my grandfathers. Besides getting a glimpse of how it was during their time, I also got inspired by the characters and their stories. I can't wait for Holthe's next novel!
kim (11/04/04)

One of the best books I've ever read!
Joe Walls (10/01/03)

I lived through WWII and the Japanese occupation in Manila from the age of 8-12. I know of many families who underwent Japanese treatment and personally presenced Japanese brutality. So, when I read of how the a 10-13 old boys would walk 20 kms from Bulacan to Manila to work for cigarrettes, Lucky Strikes, and other US brands 3 years into the occupation, immediately turned me off. Serving rich folks with whiskey while they played mahjong under palm ceiling fans??? What a yarn! Three years into the war, you would be searching for food not drinking whiskey. The Japanese did not care whether you were poor or rich. The fact is, the Japanese hit on the rich for what they had, The ordinary soldiers would invade your home and take whant they wished. They were not a well fed army, depending a lot on local resources. By the way, Filipino kids by culture are heavily shelterred, poor or rich, then and now. Why wasn't 'papa' out there scavenging like my mother and I did trading clothes for food on our bicycles everyday? Sending the "babies" out on such ventures....incredible! The houses in the Philippines especially in the provinces like Bulacan was then, did not then or now have cellars. what the author refers to as cellars is what we call 'silong', nothing more than the crawl space of about 2-3ft under the house. Also, that drama about the Tanaka going through the motions to find out who killed his colleague; testing a child's machoism... this is what is expected from a movie script writer. The Japanese did not waste their time, they just slit your throat. They were not concerned nor respected the Geneva Conventions..agreements, etc. Too much Hollywood in this book.
I noted that except for one review, most of the accolades come from folks who never experienced the war under Japanese occupation or born much after WWII. Only speak to a camp internee from Santo Thomas or Los Banos if you want to get a feel for how the Japanese behaved. My family's friends and friends had first hand experiences of massacres and torture. Enough said... Full of misinformation.
Not having lived through the times makes for a lot of inaccuracies.
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