The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

Release day is January 28, 2014!!

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

5 stars*****
This is a really difficult story to review because there really are so many layers to this book. I think because I am a mother of grown daughters I was more personally invested in Penny's story and her relationship with her mom. I would label their relationship as somewhat toxic. Mom is obsessed with her daughter fulfilling her dream as a dancer. Penny is also obsessed with the same dream but has developed unhealthy attitudes towards food and her body because of her mother's obesity. She keeps her mother very distant from her professional dance career. The world of dance has always been their primary focus and connection.
After Penny falls 14 stories and miraculously survives she is forced back into her mother's life out of necessity. Their relationship is strained because her mom doesn't know how to be anything but her daughters dance cheerleader. But, Penny is faced with the reality that dance may not ever be something she can do again professionally. They have to learn how to relate to each other in new ways. It doesn't come without a struggle.
She also forms friendships with two unlikely individuals. A baker and a young woman who is suffering from cystic fibrosis. Her friendship with this woman was the reality check she needed to bring focus to her life and what is most important. It was an interesting twist of fate of her fall bringing these three lives together.
The book flips from past to present and slowly reveals the events that led up to the fall. Penny has no memory of how it happened. Through her relationship with her new friends and by re-connecting with her past she slowly begins to heal and re-build herself and her relationship with her mom.
Penny's treatment of her mom prior to the fall was cold and she completely shut her out of her professional dance life. I was very touched at how she slowly came to the realization of all that her mother had sacrificed to help her fulfill her dream. The healing of their relationship through this fall was what drew me into the story mostly. I guess because I have had to experience this myself with my own daughters. They quite often don't appreciate you until everything falls apart. Then all of a sudden... mom ain't so bad! :)
This would be a great book to choose for book group discussions... I could spend hours discussing some of the issues that are brought up throughout the book. Especially in regards to obsessive parenting, eating disorders, priorities etc... There is a list of questions at the end of the book that can be used for discussion prompts.
I know nothing about dance and that it no way affected my interest in the story. I would recommend this book to those who love thought provoking stories that makes you stop and consider the small things in life that matter most.

ARC provided by the publisher via netgalley

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