Title: The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: A
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
One Wrong Step Could Send Her Over the Edge
All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.
Kathryn Craft’s lyrical debut novel is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to come to terms with her body and the artistic world that has repeatedly rejected her. The Art of Falling expresses the beauty of movement, the stasis of despair, and the unlimited possibilities that come with a new beginning.
The Art of Falling is a spectacular debut novel that is utterly captivating from beginning to end. This in-depth look into the world of dance is quite fascinating and Kathryn Craft does not gloss over the physical and mental toll the sport can sometimes take on dancers. Poignant and powerful, this emotional story of friendship, healing and new beginnings is thought-provoking and compelling.
Her whole life has been dedicated to dance, but broken in both body and spirit, Penelope “Penny” Sparrow is trying to make sense of her life after surviving a horrific fall. With no place else to go, she finds herself back in her mother’s house where she is forced to come to terms with her lifelong struggle with body image. But it is through the two people she meets at the lowest point in her life that Penny learns life’s most valuable lessons. Angela Reed offers Penny something that has long been absent from her life: friendship, unconditional love and acceptance. Marty Kandelbaum literally saved Penny’s life and his gentle wisdom and his willingness to take a chance on love after tragedy provides her a new perspective on both her past and her future.
Penny is in a very dark place at the beginning of The Art of Falling. Her body is not typical for a dancer and she has fought to find her niche in the dancing world. When her dream job and romance end, Penny is overwhelmed with doubts about herself-her talent, her body and her accomplishments. In the aftermath of her fall, Penny battles depression as she faces her fear that she might never dance again but with the encouragement of Angela and Kandelbaum, Penny comes to a new understanding of herself and the people in her life.
Angela and Kandelbaum are an excellent cast of secondary characters and I absolutely adored them. Angela is upbeat and positive despite her health issues and their friendship is a wonderful chance for Penny to focus on someone but herself. Kandelbaum is a sweet, spiritual man with a very calming presence and although he has suffered a great loss, he is a ray of sunshine. Their friendship reminds Penny of how much she let slip away when she became so focused on her career and the man who ultimately betrayed her.
One of the most difficult story arcs is Penny’s relationship with her mother Evelyn. Penny’s disdain of her mother’s weight overshadows all of the good that Evelyn has done for Penny. Penny is concerned about the health risks obesity poses for Evelyn, but it also propels Penny to count calories and meticulously maintain a strict diet. Evelyn is not the typical stage mother, pushing her daughter to succeed. Instead she gives Penny the opportunity to pursue her dream even when that means stepping out of Penny’s life. Although Penny does not always see it, Evelyn is her biggest supporter and she goes to great lengths to protect Penny. It is intensely gratifying to see them repair their fractured relationship and come to a better understanding of each other.
Kathryn Craft’s The Art of Falling is a beautiful mix of heartache and hope as Penny finds her way back from the brink of despair. The mystery surrounding her fall is intriguing and uncovering the truth takes the reader and Penny on a phenomenal journey of growth and self-discovery. An impressive first novel that I heartily recommend.