Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: The Art of Falling

By Kathryn Hamilton

For dancers, movement is more than what they do; it is in every fibre of their being. It is a way of life. What happens when a dancer is stripped of the movement that comes so naturally? Penelope Sparrow is faced with exactly this scenario when she survives a 14-story fall that should have killed her. In the months following, she must contend with a body that is in significant pain, frustrating rehabilitation, and the reality that dance may never be a part of her life in the same way again. The Art of Falling is a beautifully crafted story of one woman’s struggle to redefine her life, herself, and her relationships.

As readers, we are drawn to books for many reasons. The cover catches our eye. The synopsis intrigues us. Or sometimes, it can be as simple as the author’s name. Aside from the fact that dance has fascinated for me years, I was drawn to Kathryn Craft’s debut novel equally due to how she spells her first name. The Art of Falling is the first in what I’m calling “The Kathryn series” of reviews. The reason behind choosing this novel may seem trivial; however, I was far from disappointed.

Ms. Craft is a former dancer/choreographer. Her expertise, as well as love of dance, is woven into the very thread of the story. The way in which she describes movements denotes a passion for dance that can only come from experiencing it first-hand. This also translates into creating a flawed character in Penny that the reader has compassion for, rather than disdain. It is clear from the beginning that Penny has significant issues regarding her body. She not only has an unhealthy relationship with food but feels that her body has betrayed her since she has an atypical dancer’s body (tall and with hips). Readers can certainly empathize with Penny. There is an incredible amount of pressure for women especially to conform to a very narrow view of what the body should look like; this is heightened in the dance world. I felt that Penny’s obsession with weight and how “different” she was interfered with her ability to truly appreciate her gift as a dancer and her inherent creativity for choreography. In many ways, this can be said of most of us; we are so busy focusing on what is “wrong” with us that we don’t acknowledge often enough the myriad of ways in which we are wonderful and how being different can be a gift and an inspiration. Redefining the self and self-acceptance are relevant themes throughout the course of this novel.

As important as a strong lead character is to any novel, so too are the supporting characters. Here again, Ms. Craft has created a cast to surround Penny that helps to explain how she came to be where she is and shapes the person she is to become. Most notable is her contentious relationship with her mother and her unlikely friendship with Angela, a young woman living with cystic fibrosis who Penny meets in the hospital. It is through Penny’s interaction with these various individuals that the reader understands two underlying themes: things/people are rarely as they seem and most profoundly, everything, regardless of how painful, happens for a reason. Events occur to bring people together in such a way that one would be hard-pressed not to believe in fate.

Perhaps what I loved most about this novel is that fact that finding romantic love was not a central focus of the story line. Although romance is, of course, an aspect that I enjoy about chick lit, it was a refreshing change.

If The Art of Falling is any indication, we have much to look forward to from Kathryn Craft. The artistry she utilized as a dancer easily carries over into the literary world. Whatever captures your interest about the novel, Ms. Craft’s story telling keeps you drawn in for an emotionally satisfying page turner.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for the book in exchange for an honest review. They have one book for a lucky reader in the US or Canada!

How to win:

Please tell us about the last time you danced OR your favorite dance scene from a movie or TV show.

One entry per person.

Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US/Canada only. Giveaway ends February 17th at midnight EST.

You might also enjoy:


Linda Kish said...

Favorite dance scene in a movie... final dance in Dirty Dancing. It was so good. All of the dancing was great. It's one of my favorite movies.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Kritters Ramblings said...

I took dance lessons from when I was 5 until I was 18, I loved every minute of it!


Unknown said...

Watching my daughter dance all her life gave me an appreciation for dances.


Jessica said...

I hate dancing, blah. I don't really like any dance movies or tv shows. I like it when they dance on Cougar Town.

-Jessica M

jpetroroy said...

I love the ending of a Dirty Dancing!
Jpetroroy at gmail dot com

rhonda said...

Just danced at a dear friends wedding to a live band !so much fun .lomazowr@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Love all the dancing in the movie Dirty Dancing.

Mary Jo Burke said...

Love watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dance in the movies.


Nova said...

John Travolta's famous dance scene from Saturday Night Fever; "You Should be Dancing".
sparkle40175 AT hotmail DOT com

Jennifer L. said...

It has been a long time since I danced...probably not since high school.

jodi marinich said...

i last danced on sat when my husband and i went to a friends 40th bday party jmarinich33@aol.com

Carl Scott said...

Great-looking book, I'd love top win a copy. I almost never dance because I'm simply not talented but I do like dancing. Here's a clip from SYTYCD 2010, one of my favorites. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9lGGp5eq4w

EFC Chrissy said...

Well, if you don't mean "professional" or "real" dancing, then just this last Sunday with my kids at church. If you mean "real," I couldn't tell you. If you mean ballet, then almost 20 years ago. LOL

Favorite dance scene from a movie - how about the end dances in Center Stage. Awesome!

Thanks for the chance to win!


Unknown said...

7 years ballet class, too long ago for me to admit. So I'll go with tonight, with my daughter, to Let It Go.

Hfaur04 at gmail dot com

pascale said...

This book sounds wonderful. Dance always intrigues me as my daughter danced ballet from 2 yrs old until 16 and it was such a big part of our lives.

Favorite dance from a movie... I JUST saw this on youtube: Remember Will & Grace? There was a story line with Kevin Bacon, and he and Jack (?) danced the footloose dance. Well, someone compiled a BUNCH of dances from will & grace to the footloose song and it was


Melanie Backus said...

I tried some moves today as I watched women dance on The View. Good music just makes you move.

This sounds like a really good book. Thank you for the opportunity.

mauback55 at gmail dot com

bn100 said...

the final dance from dirty dancing

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

susieqlaw said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
susieqlaw said...

I did a happy dance last weekend! I love the dancing in Dirty Dancing and Center Stage.

sendsusanmail at gmail dot com

Carol Fragale Brill said...

Used to love to dance in clubs with my friends every Friday night, but haven't danced in years.
My favorite movie dance scene is hands-down, the last dance in Dirty Dancing.

Unknown said...

I love the dance scene from Step up with Channing Tatum(its where he met his wife) I love that movie.


Anita Yancey said...

My favorite dance scene from a movie has got to be Dirty Dancing. Maybe because I had a little crush on Patrick.


Anonymous said...

I love the scene in The Prince & Me where Julie Stiles is cleaning tables at the end of the workday and slips off her shoes and sways and dances around while she works. The Prince later has that song played at the 'Ball' as 'their song'. I think I like that so much because she's just being free. I've been known to sway and two step a bit as I do things around the house. As for dancing with a partner?? It's been 20 years.... too long, huh?!

Melissa Crytzer Fry said...

This book sounds so wonderful; I've read many of Kathryn's posts over at Writers in the Storm -- loved them all -- and have read a sample of THE ART OF FALLING. It sounds fabulous.

My last dance? A tribute Bee Gees band two weekends ago (in fact, my friend got ushered by security three times for dancing in the aisles. What can I say? It was an event with LOTS of older guests).

melissa (at) azcommpro (dot) com

Rosemary H. In Mo said...

Time Of Your Life from Dirty Dancing

Melissa said...

Thanks for participating and talking about dancing with us.
The last time I danced was at my sister-in-law's brother's wedding in December. My latest favorite dance scene is Danny's dance on "The Mindy Project."

Thanks to Sourcebooks for sharing the book with our winner.

Random.org chose one winner from all entries with contact info (one entry per person).

Congrats to Carl Scott!