25 August 2016

Review #513: How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”

----Amit Ray

Kathryn Holmes, an American author, pens a heart touching and extremely enlightening YA contemporary fiction novel, How It Feels to Fly that tells the story of a young, aspiring and really dedicated female ballet dancer who faces image as well as body issues when her body starts to develop curves that is a strict rule against someone who is going to perform ballet professionally, and that depresses her, not to mention, her mother's constant obsession does not help her a bit, instead she is sent away to a summer therapy camp, where she gradually stops believing in herself and her body and also fears to lose her only dream of being a ballerina.


A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer—but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

Samantha, a young teenager, is a wonderful and really talented ballet dancer, but things begin to change gradually, as Sam's mind tells her to indulge into delicious delicacies, meaning food. And so her body starts to grow in curves and meaty things which are strictly against the rule of professional ballet dancing, where maintaining a slim figure is very much necessary. So Sam's tyrannical mother decides to send her daughter away to a Summer Camp where she will overcome her body and emotionally depressing issues and thoughts that are stopping her from performing ballet, moreover, in a place like this, Sam will meet more teenagers and performers who are facing the same issue. And eventually, she learns to embrace herself the way she is, mostly with the help and kind words of the counselor on whom Sam develops a crush on, but that threatens to take away her dream of being a ballet dancer, and Sam really needs to make up her mind on what she really wants and also how much she wants to escape this sad place.

The author captures an extremely sensitive issue that today's teenagers face a lot and because of which they are bullied among their peer groups, thereby finally pushing to the dark reality of depression. Yes, therapy and counselling solves the issue, but the process to solve it, is to understand as well as find the inner self of that individual and that's a really tough process, because that would have to make the teenager believe in himself/herself and this what the author has strongly projected through this story that the readers not only find it believable but will also find it helpful and enlightening. The readers will precept this message strikingly and powerfully.

The author's writing is emphatic and the readers will find it easy to comprehend with the way of story telling by the author. The narrative is free flowing and the author has vividly captured the voice of an insecure teenager that will often make the readers contemplate as well as come closer to the honesty and the pain in Sam's depression. The pacing is perfect, meaning quite fast paced, as the readers will lose themselves in the flow of the story that winds up through multi layers.

The characters from the book are quite well developed although at times some of the characters apart from the protagonist, lacks a bit of depth from their demeanor. The main character, Sam, is very much real and genuine character, whose troubles are very well projected that will make the readers sympathize as well as root for her till the very end. There is almost no romance in the plot, but there's a special bonding between Sam and the counselor that will make the readers' hearts move for their challenges and struggles in their relationship.

In a nutshell, this is an evocative YA contemporary fiction that is must read for all those who have a body as well as image issue.

Verdict: Highly compelling and deeply moving story.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.

Author Info:
Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was an avid reader and an aspiring writer from an early age. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School's MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs. She's the author of The Distance Between Lost and Found (out now) and How It Feels to Fly
Visit her here

Book Purchase Links:


Post a Comment

Thanks for your feedback!