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The Art of Falling

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,261 ratings  ·  264 reviews
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 movem
Paperback, 361 pages
Published January 28th 2014 by Sourcebooks Landmark (first published January 1st 2014)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,261 ratings  ·  264 reviews

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Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Art of Falling is a spectacular debut novel that is utterly captivating from beginning to end. This in-depth look into the world of dance is quite fascinating and Kathryn Craft does not gloss over the physical and mental toll the sport can sometimes take on dancers. Poignant and powerful, this emotional story of friendship, healing and new beginnings is thought-provoking and compelling.

Her whole life has been dedicated to dance, but broken in both body and spirit, Penelope "Penny" Sparrow is
Heidi Thomas
Aug 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of books. I always have one going. Usually I go from one to the next, like another handful of potato chips and promptly forget what I’ve just read. It’s “mind candy,” pure entertainment, escape fiction.

But once in awhile I come across a book that stays with me—while I’m reading it and long after I’ve finished. It’s a story that grabs my heart and soul and I can’t get enough. I can’t put it down, but I don’t want it to end, and it stays in my periphery long afterward.

The Art of Falli
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Although the mystery of whether or not Penelope Sparrow meant to jump off her balcony lies at the core of this story, and was initially the driving force that kept me turning pages, The Art of Falling is really the story of a despondent woman learning to appreciate her life again as she heals from near-death injury and has to accept the ghosts of her past.

This book reminds me of summer camp: in how it progresses from cloudy to an optimism that only skeptics could try to deny, and in the way Pen
Nancey Brackett
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had the honor of getting to read an Advance Reader Copy of this wonderful book. Set in the world of dance the author tells a story of a woman who falls to the edge and finds her way back. The novel explores so many rich themes, from body image and eating disorders,love and loss, to unlikely friendships and redemption. The writing is beautiful, descriptions bringing the scenes and characters to life. Can't wait until publication in January so I can get my own copy and read this again. Have alre ...more
Gina Heron
Aug 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
If there is any art in you at all, ANY (and there is art in us all, yes?), go get yourself a copy of THE ART OF FALLING by Kathryn Craft, Author and read every delicious word of it. I have been moved to tears, and reminded of why we work so hard at expression, and love, and all the things that make us alive. What a joy this book is.
Donna Galanti
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In Kathryn Craft’s beautifully sad and hopeful debut, THE ART OF FALLING, she shows us that our relationship with movement is everything. It’s in the way we breathe, comfort a loved one, and express ourselves–it’s life itself.

Penny’s life has always been about dance. When she lets go of that movement, her life is literally in the air and she nearly dies from a 14-story fall. She doesn’t remember why she fell nor does she understand that movement may be the only thing that can save her–if she le
Allison Shifman Chartier
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2015
A heavy handed Lifetime movie of a book. I am still confused about how her "fall" was supposed to be a mystery. Her name is Sparrow (eye roll), she fell from the sky! She is anorexic and her mother runs a candy factory (double eye roll), she must know someone else's death to experience life (eyes broken from rolling), said dying friend's mother is a doctor working as fast as she can to discover a cure (oh my gosh, please stop!). I am shocked she couldn't find independence when living in the Inde ...more
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've been trying to decide between 4 and 5 stars for this book - I liked it a lot and thought it was beautifully written and a wonderful story but thought the ending was a little too "happy ending" for me.

The book starts out with a young woman named Penny in a hospital in terrible pain and she has no recollection how she got there - it turns out that she survived a 14 story fall from her apartment's balcony. Did she jump or did she fall? Penny's story unfolds throughout the book as well as the d
Betty Bolte
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is a beautifully written story of a dancer struggling to be true to herself and her "imperfect" body in a world that seeks perfection. Penny Sparrow's story is a haunting tale of facing our demons, accepting ourselves as we are, and making peace with the critics surrounding each of us. I applaud Ms. Craft for her exquisite storytelling and light hand on some heavy topics.
Catherine McKenzie
Aug 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful book. I raced through this in a day, both because I wanted to find out what happened but also because the pages just compelled me along. Highly recommend.
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a really difficult story to review because there really are so many layers to this book. I think because I am a mother of grown daughters I was more personally invested in Penny's story and her relationship with her mom. I would label their relationship as somewhat toxic. Mom is obsessed with her daughter fulfilling her dream as a dancer. Penny is also obsessed with the same dream but has developed unhealthy attitudes towards food and her body because of her mother's obesity. She keeps h ...more
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: e-book, fiction
Read this review and others over at My Library Card

a copy of this book was provided through NetGalley

I had written a review for this book just five minutes ago but it didn't save for some reason. I am lost with what I want to say even though I have already said it. The words are in my head and have already flowed through my fingertips onto the keyboard. But for the life of me, writing this a second time has become a serious challenge. Forgive me if my words are rough and don't make any sense.

Sara Diane
Jan 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, for-mary, reviewed
I read this as a pre-read through NetGalley.

A solid, moving story about one dancer's fall--literally--and her return to movement and life.

Penny Sparrow falls off a balcony 14 stories up, and she survives. But as a dancer, she feels her life is over. The story follows Penny from just after the fall through the next year of her life, as she makes friends, and rebuilds who she is.

There were a few things that kept me from loving the book--little things. Like Penny's name (her last name is Sparrow,
Sep 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: net-galley
I sat for quite some time in reflection after the last page was turned.Truly moving novel and I hope the author will write many more.

Full review at:

Jill Anderson
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wfwa
As if the world of ballet wasn't physically difficult enough, this great read gives us a glimpse into the other underlying demons many people in ballet face--the perfection of their body (and denying it nutrition), fierce competition, and rejection...especially if you don't fit into the typical "body" mold, as Penny does not.

Penny is a relatable (and somewhat complicated) character. Her two unlikely friends and supporters, Angela and Marty, are likable and endearing. Her journey in the story is
Linda Lane
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women everywhere who seek to find themselves and their ideal place in life.
I was privileged to read a pre-pub copy of this compelling story for the purpose of writing a review. As soon as it is available to the public, I will most certainly be purchasing a copy for my bookshelf.

Unlike the petals of a tulip in springtime, unfolding in full dress to reach for the warm light of the sun, Penelope Sparrow awakens in the cold starkness of a hospital room and labors to coerce her immobile arm to reach toward...anything. Blurred realities pirouette around her inert form, pain
Heather Webb
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Craft emerges on the women's fiction scene as a real talent, an author with assured voice and plenty of important things to say. In The Art of Falling, I noted shimmering snippets of brilliance in its introspection, as well as in the deep understanding of what it means to question all you've ever known about yourself--and where to go when that all changes. To top it off, I was utterly fascinated by the life of a dancer, about which I knew virtually nothing. I look forward to more from this autho ...more
Mary Shafer
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: those seeking renewed faith in mankind , or validation that living a creative life is worthwhile
Recommended to Mary by: Other writers
This is SO not a book I thought I'd ever read, but I am thrilled that I did! It's set in the world of dance, a milieu that couldn't be more foreign to me if I tried, given that I'm probably the world's least athletic and most ungainly person, and that's why I would likely never have picked it up. And what a loss that would have been.

I bought the book to support a friend and fellow author, but I came away deeply touched, inspired and re-awakened to the power of love and true friendship, to the im
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Penelope Sparrow is a dancer. For reasons she can't seem to remember, she has jumped off of a 14-story building and woken up in the hospital alive.

Penelope Sparrow's story tries to be a lot of things. It tries to be a story of finding oneself using the metaphor of modern dance. It tries to be a treatise on the inner-mind of a woman with an eating disorder. It tries to be an interconnected tale of the different ways love comes to us in our lives. It tries to be far too many things at once and bec
Kerry Ann Morgan
Oct 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Dreams. Aspirations. We all have them. Some of us dedicate our lives to the fierce pursuit of them. Some of us dabble. Some of us push our bodies and our minds to the breaking point. Some of us just let our dream silently slip like sand through our fingers.

Some of us jump—or fall—like a wounded songbird unable to cling to its lofty perch. Like Penelope “Penny” Sparrow.

When I was a child, I had a book called A Very Young Dancer. Through its story and photos I felt the excitement, apprehension, an
Cocktails and Books
Dec 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
3.5 Cocktails

Wow, where to start with this book...there was so much to it! The story starts out in a pretty dark place with Penny waking up in a hospital room. She doesn't remember how she got there, nor the fourteen-story fall that caused her injuries. She does remember many of the reasons she was unhappy in the first place, however. Penny had body-image issues. She doesn't have a typical dancer's body and she has felt self-conscious about it for a long time. She also has relationship issues wi
Eustacia Tan
Sep 04, 2013 rated it liked it
On Monday, I read Wintergirls (link leads to review), and now, I read The Art OF Falling. The Art of Falling also touches on eating disorders, but unlike Wintergirls, the protagonists refuses to admit she has a disorder - she sees herself as eating healthily.

The book starts off when Penelope falls forteen stories and survives. She ended up blocking the fall from her memory. The book, really, is how she copes with having to leave the dance world, and the events leading up to the fall.

Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first book of the new year and it was one that I had to take my time reading. I had a love/hate relationship with the central character Penny. She survives an 8-story fall, a fall she can't remember. She lands on the top of a car owned by Marty, a bakery owner. He comes to the hospital to see her and she learns more about what happened. She meets her hospital roommate Angela, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. The three unlikely friends become so close as the story goes on.

Penny has
Mar 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars A Modern Dancer’s story of her struggles to maintain an impossible body image is the major theme of Kathryn Craft’s novel. The story begins with Penny awaking at the hospital, not understanding why she was there. Penny learns that she has survived a 14-story fall onto a truck’s roof. She has no memory of the event and how she came to fall. Her hospital roommate, Angela, is a cystic fibrosis sufferer. Angela is a spunky character who enjoys each minute of each day because she knows she’ ...more
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful story of celebrating life. To really appreciate the joy of living, one must first have pain, and Penelope Sparrow has plenty of pain, physical and emotional and spiritual. The journey Penelope takes from the darkest moment of despair to the light of joy is not an easy one, for her or for the reader at times. The author did not pull back from the agony one feels while watching someone she loves die and the internal conflicts that creates.

Using the themes of dance and letting the
Ane Mulligan
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: top-ten-for-2014
In her debut novel The Art of Falling, an amazing story about the resiliency of the human spirit, Kathryn Craft has secured a spot in my Top 10 for 2013 list. From her lyrical style to her unforgettable characters, she had me mesmerized from the first page until the last.

One caveat, there are two non-gratuitous 4-letter words, but please don't let that stop you from reading this outstanding novel. You'll miss one of the best of this year's offerings if you do. I give it a 4 out of 5. It's a mu
Leah DeCesare
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful story, beautifully written. Touching, moving, inspiring.
Deborah Gray
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Penelope Sparrow wakes up in the hospital, with a broken body and no recollection of how she got there. Finding out that she fell 14 stories to land on a stranger's car did not awaken her memories. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Was it a suicide attempt, as everyone assumes? Weaving the story of Penny's dancing struggles through the evolution of her recovery was masterful, teasing out the drama and tension in just the right measures. As she picks up the pieces of her life, what or who will she be ...more
Oct 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel I will not ever forget. Kathryn's characters speak to the soul- every one of them highly developed and important to her story. A fierce novel of courage strength despair adversity and love. It was wonderful and much more. Please read it.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was slow to grab my attention. Possibly because I know so little about professional dance. But I kept reading and found myself liking the characters more and more.
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Interview with this amazing author! 1 12 Aug 18, 2013 03:56PM  
  • Deception
  • Daughter of Jerusalem
  • What She Left Us
  • In a Heartbeat
  • Frozen
  • The Only True Genius in the Family
  • Thimble and Thread
  • In Safe Arms (Grace & Poole, #2)
  • An Uncommon Family (Family Portrait, #1)
  • Isabella, Star of the Story
  • The Unfinished Garden
  • The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women
  • I Think I'll Make It
  • The Fable of Bing
  • My Next Step: An Extraordinary Journey of Healing and Hope
  • The Last First Day
  • Life is a thief
  • Days Like These
My second published novel, The Far End of Happy, is the culmination of a 17-year calling to write about my first husband's suicide and the impact it had on our family and community, an event that seared itself so indelibly into our lives that I constrained the story to its 12 hours. I so appreciate its warm reception!

Despite this trial I live a joy-filled life. It has been my privilege to raise tw
“There is such beauty in the fight to live. We must all find the courage to go on.” 6 likes
“Watching dance isn't about picking up moves. It's about noting the relationships between motion and space and rhythm to absorb a greater concept” 3 likes
More quotes…