Book Review: The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft

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.
Release Date: January 28, 2014
Age Group: Adult
Source: NetGalley
Reviewed By: Kelli
The Art of Falling was very different from my usual reads.  It read like literary fiction to me: the prose was very lyrical, full of meaning, and I often had to stop and think after reading a sentence to divine its true meaning.  I enjoyed that aspect of the book, but it made for a slower, more cerebral read.

I used to take dance (just for fun, I was never anywhere near good enough to consider competing) so I always enjoy reading about dancers.  Penny is a professional dancer, yet her body type (tall, broader than most dancers) keeps her from many of the roles she's qualified for.  Her larger stature sticks out when in a group of petite dancers.  Because of this, she has had body image issues her entire life.  She restricts her eating just to the point where she does not meet the criteria for an eating disorder, but her eating habits are far from healthy.

The book begins with Penny waking up in a hospital room, having survived a fall.  She has no memory of the events leading up to the fall, or if she actually jumped (like many people think).  Penny's hospital roommate is a girl named Angela, who is in the end stages of cystic fibrosis.  Penny and Angela slowly become friends, and that friendship is the defining relationship of Penny's life.  Penny starts to view what she previously considered to be weaknesses as strengths, having a different perspective after spending time with Angela, who is a strong spirit trapped in a weak body. 

There were so many things I liked about The Art of Falling, but I think my favorite element of the book was the extensive character growth (displayed in all of the major characters).  Penny went from a one-dimensional person to someone completely different.  I loved watching her transformation!  The Art of Falling is Penny's story, for sure, but Angela, Marty and Penny's mother all played vital roles and had their own interesting story arcs as well. 

I should know better than to expect a completely happy ending out of emotional books like these, so I wasn't completely taken aback when the inevitable happened.  I was sad, and even shed a tear, yet I applauded Craft for keeping the book realistic and true to the storyline. 

I really enjoyed The Art of Falling and would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction, literary fiction, and anyone looking for an intelligently-written, moving read. 


  1. This sounds like a fantastic read. I really enjoy books about dancers and the life behind the dancer. This sounds really good. I have added it to my TBR. Thanks!

  2. Kelli, thanks for featuring The Art of Falling on your great blog! Chrissy—hope you enjoy it!


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