The Art of Falling
by Kathryn Craft
Penelope Sparrow, a 28-year-old dancer, has spent her entire life perfecting her body to meet directors' crushing expectations. But when she wakes up in a Philadelphia hospital unable to move, she can’t even remember the events leading up to the accident: a near-fatal fall down 14 stories. With a second chance at life, Penny must come to terms with a body that has betrayed her, as she tries to discover what happened that night.
Written by a former dancer, this is a masterful portrayal of a young woman trying to understand her own past and begin again, beautifully expressing the language of dance and broken dreams.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
This novel was written by someone with in-depth experience of the dance world. A former choreographer and dance critic, Kathryn Craft captures the joy and despair of dancing beautifully. Her descriptions of movement, emotion, and the discipline of professional dancers lends authority to this book.
Unfortunately, she is also well-acquainted with suicide, as her first husband committed suicide several years ago. Dealing with the aftermath of such a painful loss has provided her with the insight used in her book to help Penelope deal with the fallout from her suicide attempt.
Penelope is not easy to like, especially not at the beginning. She's angry, sarcastic, self-centred, and unable to appreciate the people who care about her. Focused entirely on what she's lost as a result of her fall, she doesn't see everything that she's gained.
Over time, things start to change, especially when she makes friends with a woman who has cystic fibrosis and is living on borrowed time. While never stated out loud in the novel, the juxtaposition of the woman who had a body in perfect health who chose to try and throw her life away and the woman whose body betrays her with every fighting breath sends a message that is not lost on the reader. Penelope slowly begins to see the gift she's been given, and fights her way back to a newly designed life.
Kat's Rating: All-Consuming
After an initial few chapters where I felt that I wouldn't be able to connect with the protagonist, I slowly became involved with the supporting characters, and they sustained my interest until Penelope grew on me. This is a sad but hopeful novel, that teaches that there is always a way back up, no matter how far you've fallen.
I received a complimentary copy of this title from NetGalley & the publisher in return for an honest review.