That cover is pretty dramatic isn't it? That girl is literally falling. But falling into or out of what? Is there a sense of desperation in that girl's life? Is life that out of control for that girl? I had to find out. That cover is really what sold me on the book, I knew there had to be a good/intriguing story behind it.
Penelope "Penny" Sparrow was raised to be a dancer. Her mother drilled into her that dance was the way to go. As she grew older, Penny pushed her body to its limits. When the book opens Penny is in the hospital. Her body is literally bruised and broken. She's alive, but every movement hurts. She doesn't know how she got there. But some new friends will help her to remember and to rebuild her life.
Angela, her hospital roommate, and Marty, a local baker, help put the pieces of Penny's life back together. Marty fills a gap in Penny's memory that she would rather forget. He is the one who found her. She literally landed on his car after a 14-story fall. Was she pushed? Did she fall? Or did she jump? As the book progresses, I was leaning more and more to Penny jumping. Her life before the fall sounded like torture. In my mind, she tortured herself for her craft.
To be a dancer you have to be disciplined. Penny seemed too disciplined. Her mother raised her to be a dancer, and seemed to be living vicariously through her daughter. She needed to be in her daughter's life in every way, so much so that Penny broke free. She broke free of her mother's home, unhealthy eating habits, and her neediness. Penny pushed her body to the brink dancing for her charismatic choreographer Dmitri. A line was certainly crossed between the two, leading to Penny living with him. She wants to impress him. She wants bigger parts in his productions -- no matter the cost.
Maybe it's a stereotype, but Penny seemed like a typical dancer. She restricted her calories almost to the point of obsession. Her relationship with her mother is strained. To me, Penny wasn't very likeable. I wondered if she even liked herself. Maybe that is the problem. Without dancing what kind of person is she really? Did her obsession with body image and dancing with Dmitri push her over the edge?
Despite their own problems, Angela and Marty provide a much-needed and calming influence for Penny. Angela is battling cystic fibrosis, but will fight at all costs to keep air flowing through her lungs. Marty is mourning the loss of his wife, but finds solace in his bakery. They were a good contrast for Penny's character. Even with their private battles, Angela and Marty were examples of what a normal life could look like. It didn't seem like Penny ever had a sense of normality.
I might not have always liked Penny's character, but I came to understand her by the end. There was a definite wave of emotions in this book. Funny, happy, sad, and endearing are the words I would use to describe this book.
Rating: Give it a try
Note: I received an e-ARC from the publisher (Sourcebooks) as part of a blog tour.