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Sandy M’s review of Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft
Women’s Fiction published by Sourcebooks Landmark 28 Jan 14

Did Penny jump fourteen stories after her world crashed in on her? Everyone in her life believes so, but you and Penny take the journey together from her recovery to her returning memories later in the story to discover exactly what did happen that night. During the trip she comes to new realizations about her life, garners new friends, and comes to a better understanding of the one person who has always supported her, even though Penny never saw it quite like that.

Penny is a dancer, which has always been her dream. When she finally lands a position with a new company, and their work is being recognized, Penny is in her element. Then she’s given more responsibility and ends up in a romantic relationship with the founder of the group. Life is good for a while, and then the final curtain comes down on her love life, betrayal the last thing she expected. Now she’s in the hospital after her fall, lucky in a way, but knowing she’ll probably never dance again, and finding two friends who give her unconditional friendship she’s never had before.

The book interweaves Penny’s two lives to give the reader her entire story, building toward that moment when she remembers the sequence that led to her fall. I enjoyed the look into her early life with her mother being nearly as immersed in dance as Penny herself. We find out early on that Penny’s body type is not for the usual dancer. She has to work harder keeping her weight down, dodge eating disorder rumors, but the movement of dance and all its elements come easy to her and enthralls when she’s on stage, and for a bit she’s right where she belongs.

During her recuperation she moves in with her mother, where memories remind her of all she’s lost.  Her habits are hard to break, even at the urging of her mom and new friends. Penny meets Angela while in the hospital. Admiration abounds for Angela as she gets to know the woman better and watches her deal with her medical issues with optimism. Marty Kandelbaum actually saved Penny’s life when she landed on his car that fateful night. Despite the tragedies he’s suffered in life, he’s always happy and ready to help. These are exactly the kind of people Penny needs now, giving her an idea of what she missed during her years of dedication. I really like these two secondary characters. Upon meeting Penny and each other, they forge a friendship quickly that would usually take years to foster to such a level.

Penny’s mother is also a great secondary character. This relationship is difficult for Penny, however, because she doesn’t understand how her mom has let herself go, she’s overweight and doing nothing about it. So the mother-daughter relationship doesn’t have smooth sailing in the beginning, Penny even being a bit snippy at times. It’s not until much later after Mom does begin to embrace life differently that they come to better terms. I love the motherly support she gives to her daughter, no matter what. She never waivers.

It’s a long, difficult, and very emotional road for Penny, but she realizes she’s been given a fresh start. She goes back to the beginning with an early dance teacher while trying to keep a local newspaper critic at bay. When tragedy strikes again, Penny’s best work pours out of her as she gives a special performance, amid a lot of unexpected revelations, as well as her returning memories. Did Penny jump? You need to take the journey with her to find out. It’s one heck of a terrific ride for a debut book. Kathryn Craft has written what she knows, and the time to take this trip is worth it.

sandym-iconGrade: B+


All Penny ever wanted to do was 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.

Read an excerpt.