Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Review: How It Feels To Fly by Kathryn Holmes

How It Feels To Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Release Date - June 14th, 2016
Publisher - HarperTeen
Purchase - Amazon / B&N
The movement is all that matters.

For as long as Samantha can remember, she’s wanted to be a professional ballerina. She’s lived for perfect pirouettes, sky-high extensions, and soaring leaps across the stage. Then her body betrayed her.

The change was gradual. Stealthy.

Failed diets. Disapproving looks. Whispers behind her back. The result: crippling anxiety about her appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope.

What I really need is a whole new body.

Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?

My thoughts:

 Hmm... I liked this book, but at the same time, I kept feeling like something was missing, that something that would have made me fall in love with it. Kathryn Holmes writes well, the characters are engaging and the book deals with serious issues, and though it wasn't love for me, I highly recommend this YA contemporary perfect for the summer!

Samantha has dreamed of becoming a professional ballet dancer ever since she was a kid - her mother was one, so it feels just logical for her to become one too. And she was good - really good! But then puberty hit, and her body started to change gradually. Unlike the other dancers in her group, he started to fill up - her chest got bigger, her hips got bigger, her weight went up. For a ballerina, that it probably one of the worst things that could happen. Diet after diet, Samantha fails to get back to her old shape. There is nothing she can do to get rid of the body shape she has grown into. When the whispers and stares of other dancers start to surround Samantha, she develops a crippling anxiety that makes everything she has dreamed of even more difficult.

On the recommendation of her dance teacher, Samantha is sent to a summer camp for teen athletes and artists who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles that are stopping them from performing 100 %. At the camp she meets a gymnast afraid of performing after an accident; a football player who doesn't do well under pressure; a perfectionist figure skater who stops at nothing when it comes to perfecting her routine; an actor suffering from stage-fright; a tennis player whose motives for being at the camp are unknown; and the camp counselors. Though at first, Sam is very hesitant to share anything with the group, as time goes on, she realizes that they all are embarrassed of something, that they all have something that burdens them, keeps them from doing something they love.

At the beginning of the camp, Samantha forms a bond with one of the counselors. Andrew, an ex-football player seems to get Samantha and see her in a way she herself cannot. As they spend time together, Samantha starts to think that there might be more between them than just friendship. But can Andrew help her with her anxiety, or is he just a distraction on her way to ballet come-back?

As I wrote before, I liked this one, but I didn't love it! I think that was mostly because it wasn't really what I was expecting it to be. I was hoping for an influential and powerful YA read WITH romance. This certainly was influential and powerful - the dealing with anxiety was done well, and I think it is extremely important that books like this exist. As someone who struggles with anxiety, I wish there would have been books like this when I was a teenager, so I would have realized that what I am feeling is something other people are feeling as well. But surprisingly to me, this one didn't actually have that much romance, which was a disappointment for me, because when I picked this one up, I was expecting romance. Now that I look back, I wish that I would have picked this one up at another moment, because I think my rating would have been a bit higher. But since romance was what I was looking for and was left short, I will keep my rating in what I marked to Goodreads right after finishing with this.

As I mentioned, the way the book deals with anxiety and all of the other problems these teens are struggling with, is written well and I appreciate the fact that the author takes her time to really establish what these characters are going through. If you are looking for a really action-packed read, this one might not be your best pick, but if you are a fan of well-done character development, I definitely recommend picking this one up!

So, if you are looking for swoonworthy romance, this one isn't you pick, but otherwise, How It Feels To Fly is a solid, well-written YA contemporary that deals with very important issues definitely worth writing and reading about!

3 snowflakes


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