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  • 2016 Finalist, International Book Awards (Women's Issues)

  • 2016 IPPY Silver Medalist, Canada-East, Best Regional Fiction






“From the very first words of her prologue, Donna Decker draws you into the story.  You are “there" before you are fully aware that her beautifully crafted novel is tackling profound issues.  I believe that caring about a problem, emotion, without taking action to solve it, is irrelevant.  Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You is the marriage of emotion and action. Decker's novel underscores the myriad ways in which women's lives are shaped — and too often destroyed —by the inequality that often leads to violence. Her book offers us the chance to delve deeper into conversations about gender inequity and violence against women that must be confronted to ultimately enrich the lives of us all - women and men.”

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1997), Chair, Nobel Women's Initiative



“It took me ten years to understand that the story of the Polytechnique

massacre did not belong only to me, but belonged to all those who

wanted to bear witness, to understand. My private story, however,

does belong to me. And the Polytechnique massacre story is built

on thousands of private stories of victims and their families, of the

Polytechnique students, teachers, employees, and of all those whose

life was transformed on that day. In Dancing In Red Shoes Will Kill

You, Donna Decker re-imagines private stories to transcend December

6th and bring back to life the memory of my classmates.”

nathalie provost, P. Eng., wounded on December 6th, 1989


“December 6, 1989 – a seemingly ordinary winter night – fourteen

people are dead at l’École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal.

Amongst these, my sister: Maud. Possibly, before this date,

as important as it was, the phenomena of violence against women

still seemed abstract, without face, without soul, of no importance.

This ‘problem’ in our society is all too often summarized as a few

editorial lines in a judiciary chronicle or revealed in dark photos of

an anonymous body found in a squalid alley.… Until now – Donna

Decker’s novel offers us the most comprehensive accounting to date

of the crime that continues to engage the conscience of a country.”

sylvie haviernick, sister of one of the fourteen victims of the

Montreal Massacre


“A beautiful elegy. Decker’s debut novel builds bridges through her

life-affirming prose. Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You broke my


maureen bradley, Associate Professor, Department of Writing,

University of Victoria


“This novel, based on the tragic events of December 6th 1989, is

an important commemoration of victims of the Montreal Massacre.

With convincing characters and meticulous reconstruction of details,

Donna Decker shows us that the killer was not a lunatic, but

that his actions were a direct consequence of the negative attitude

towards women in society. This is a very important point because

once you proclaim someone like him a monster, it means he is an

exception, and therefore society is not to be blamed for his actions.

On the other hand, if you make a reader aware of the atmosphere

of hatred towards women, the whole society becomes responsible

for his heinous crime. This book is also a strong condemnation of

society’s negative attitudes towards women’s emancipation. I am

grateful that Donna Decker, with this book, has made me aware

that in modern times, in a civilized country, women were killed just

because they were women.”

slavenka drakulić, author of Holograms of Fear, Marble Skin,

and S. A Novel About the Balkans


“Each December 6th since 1989, I gather with women working

against male violence from Vancouver, Montreal, Moscow, London

or Paris to acknowledge the importance of the Montreal Massacre

but also to organize a better future for women. Still, Donna Decker,

in her novel Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You, through excellent

journalistic research, reveals and conveys some social and political

realities that I didn’t know. She links historical facts with the story-

telling techniques of fiction to help us imagine how other men and

women lived those days. Most importantly, she commits to women

and to honesty about this specific group of women. Time, unearthed

details, and her feminist sensibility holds out for us a perspective on

the truth of those public and private events. Sparked by both the

murders and the responses of our institutions, thousands of women

took over Canadian streets protesting murderous male rage. After

twenty-five years, extreme events of male violence worldwide again

illuminate the rape culture that spawns them. Reading this book

puts us in good company while we consider when and where to run

for shelter from men’s violence against women and when and why

to defy it.”

lee lakeman, author of Obsession, with Intent


“This historical novel could not be more timely. Anchored in the events

of the Montreal Massacre, the book imagines in rich and carefully

researched detail the possible lives of the women engineers attacked

by the shooter on December 6, 1989, and the lives of their friends,

family members, and others affected by the shooting, including engineers,

feminists, and even feminist engineers on other campuses.

In doing so, the novel does a justice to the women the world lost on

that day. In addition to humanizing those affected by the Montreal

Massacre, the book expertly contextualizes the misogynist school

shooting in the broader settings of sexism in engineering, violence

against women on college campuses and gender-based violence more

broadly. A must read for anyone seeking to make sense of the all

too real connections between gender-based violence and barriers to

advancement of women.”

donna riley, Professor, Department of Engineering Education,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


“This book is immaculately researched, and the characters empathetically

imagined. Given the recent media scrutiny of gendered crime

on college campuses, it is a must read!”

kevin o’hara, author of Last of the Donkey Pilgrims


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