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How It Feels to Fly

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,199 ratings  ·  217 reviews
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 appea
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by HarperTeen
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3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,199 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s how to ignore the eyes. How to pretend they don’t hurt.

I think Kathryn Holmes is a really underrated author of Contemporary YA. Her debut - The Distance Between Lost and Found - impressed me a lot with its balance of teen social issues and a "lost in the woods" survival story. How It Feels to Fly is very different, but still packs an emotional punch.

Despite what the blurb tells us, this book has very little to do with ballet dancing. Yes, th
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Samantha gets sent to a camp called, Perform at Your Peak. This is a camp for any type artist or athletes that are having problems with anxiety.

All Sam wants to be is a ballerina, but when she starts getting snickered at and being told by her teachers and mom she needs to lose weight, it brings on the panic attacks.


I felt really bad for all of the teens in this camp because the stress put on them by their parents are worse than what I call bullies.

1. Sam - the ballerina
2. Katie - the gymnast
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.)

“So you think I can’t be a ballet dancer. It’s because of how I look, isn’t it?”

This was a YA story about a ballerina with weight issues.

Sam was obviously going through tough times in this story, and her panic attacks felt really real. I liked the way that she came across as vulnerable, and the way she ran off and hid when things got really bad, as that seemed like a fai
Elise (TheBookishActress)
How It Feels To Fly is a thoughtful, emotional story about growing up and losing what you love.

This is yet another emotional contemporary story held up mostly by the stellar character work and message. The main character, Sam, is one of the most realistic, developed characters I've read in contemporary YA. Holmes incorporates both a sympathetic portrayal of anxiety and a sympathetic portrayal of having issues around food. All the side characters are equally as developed, with believable motives
Kim at Divergent Gryffindor
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: rating-5-stars
EDIT: I also made a little bookmark thingy based on the cover ;)

Actual rating: 4.5 stars

How It Feels to Fly is one of those books where you don't realize how good it is until you're finished reading the whole thing. I remember when I was reading, I kept waiting for that one amazing moment to make me love the book, but that didn't happen. What happened was a flash of realization when I closed the book - about how much I can relate to everything and everyone, how much I learned, and how true to l
“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 depress
Jun 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Ballet was my safest space. Then my body changed. I got curvy, and I got self-conscious. I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone looking at me—what they were seeing.”

This was a great look at an issue that is sadly common: negative body image. So many women and young girls are plagued by this, and I can tell you from personal experience that it's such a sad place to be.

Okay, time to get serious: When I was thirteen my body changed, and like Sam, I wasn't prepared for it. Rather than accepting
Jan 05, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 3-star
“Ballet was my safest space. Then my body changed. I got curvy, I got self-conscious. I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone looking at me—what they were seeing. When the comments started coming—both painfully kind and sweetly cruel—I heard them echo inside my head. Before long, my nasty inner voice had more to say about me, and worse, than anyone else ever could.
You’re fat. You’re weak. You’re worthless.”

I liked this quite a bit more than I expected to. I still thought this dragged a bit and h
Important note- there are a lot of themes in How It Feels to Fly that can be triggers. If self harm, eating disorders, or extreme anxiety are triggers for you, do not read this book.

With that being said, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is a book that I think is extremely important. Personally, I related to the main character, Samantha, more than I care to admit (but more on that later). But, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, you should read HOW IT FEELS TO FLY because it allows you to step into the sho
Tee loves Kyle Jacobson
This book is amazing just simply amazing! I have never read a book that has taken on an issues straight on that impacts teen girls everyday in every walk of life. I have a close family member who has body dysmorphia and I have to say that everyday is a struggle for her and no matter what people tell her she always thinks the worse of herself. As I was reading about Sam I thought about my family member and was shocked by what she could be feeling and thinking. I have to say that this book was suc ...more
Aimee ♥ | Aimee, Always
Although I personally didn't enjoy this one, I think it'll be a good read for others, especially those who have/are experiencing anxiety. I've listed three relatable themes from the book in my When in Manila review! Apart from that, though, here's the gist of what I thought:

1. The author describes anxiety realistically.
2. We have a heroine who is absolutely passionate... about ballet, which I think is beautiful.

1. The "romance", which is really only romance to some
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Jan 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-releases, 2016
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 on
alexandra ling
i connected and related to the characters/situation so much, it's actually uncanny. most ballet books i read make the world seem much harsher and the situations unrealistic, but HOW IT FEELS TO FLY was not the case. i could imagine someone i know struggling through these problems; i could imagine myself going through these problems. this book was/is ME and all the things i don't want to admit to myself (although an intensified version of me because i don't actually have anxiety, but reading this ...more
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

In How it Feels to Fly, we meet Sam. Sam is a dancer. At first glance, I assumed I'd never relate to Sam, because I am about the least coordinated person in ever. But oh, how wrong I was. See, as a swimmer with a non-swimmer body, I totally related to Sam. As a person who didn't feel comfortable in her own skin I related to Sam, and in about a billion other ways, I related to Sam. 
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Summer camps are the best - challenging you to try new things and shoving you into a group of strangers for a week or more. But a summer camp for kids who are struggling - having eating issues or sleeping issues, anxiety and anger. It's a camp that Samantha, Sam for short, feels she needs to find the break through so she can get thinner. She's a ballet dancer - it's all she's ever wanted. And the last year or two, her body has been changing and she just can't seem to lose the weight.

But this su
Laurence R.
May 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! I think performance anxiety is something that we should talk about more and this book is basically all about it, which I was really happy about. I liked the characters and I think that the story developped pretty well.
Jan 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction

My rating feels somewhere between 4 stars and 4.5. This was a really sweet book!

Samantha feels betrayed by her body's figure; everyone around her seems to subtly remind her of her weight, her shape, and how it's not the "right form" for classical ballet dancers to have. Her mother is always getting on her about diets, and other dancers at her studio hand out fake-nice comments in a way that's supposed to sound helpful, but hurts Samantha. After Samantha has a panic attack in front of everyone at

Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
It hit all the places it should, some of which I wasn't ready for, but it also missed the mark in a few places.
Lea (drumsofautumn)
I didn’t think I’d relate to this SO much. An incredibly personal, hard-hitting read, that I’ll cherish for years to come. I don’t think I’ll write a review for it because I had such an intensely subjective experience with this and I honestly wouldn’t even know how to talk about it.

Trigger and content warnings for anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, bulimia specifically but not only, self-harm and a lot of mentions of different mental illness symptoms.
Rhea Dsouza
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rhea by: YASH 2016
Shelves: arc, 2016-releases
There are certain categories of books that take you by surprise.  You read them, you connect with them, you understand them, but only after you have closed those books do you realise how much they’re going to affect you, and how you’re never quite going to forget about them.  Those are the books of your heart, and How It Feels To Fly was one of those for me.

The story begins in a camp for teenage artists and athletes, where like Samantha, other teens who struggle, both physically and mentally, tr
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps


I'm a psychologist and when I read inaccurate portrayals of mental illness and/or treatment, I feel frustrated. I came so close to giving HOW IF FEELS TO FLY one star, but there were some redeeming factors.

-fairly accurate portrayal of anxiety
-some realistic consequences
-pleasant writing
-interesting characters

-creepy/flirty camp "counselor"
-no such program would exist in that format (a psychologist bunking with 6 clients and 2 camp gr
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was a fantastic read. I canNOT say enough good things. It was funny and heart wrenching—full of uniquely diverse characters, a relevant subject matter and just brilliant narrative—How it Feels to Fly is a MUST READ.

I adored Sam. I saw so much of myself in her, her inner voice is so spot on to my every day that I couldn’t even you guys. I. COULD. NOT. EVEN. I told my fiancé at one point while I was reading, “Sam is me.” Struggling with anxiety AND body image issues is…so incredible toug
Justin Turczak
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you have anxiety or even depression. Self doubt or just intense in sports. Or even if your in a good mood type person like my self key word usually. But I loved it and feel this book doesn't go over to much trying shove down that your a wreck and such. And this book is diffrent than most since it's a contempory as well but I won't go into it so don't spoil. But everyone Atleast once should read this book
Krithika Sundar
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, young-adult
5 stars!!!

"If the past few months have taught me anything, it’s how to ignore the eyes. How to pretend they don’t hurt."


I am beyond happy to have read this book. I'm going through a really tough time now in life. I feel rejected and heavy hearted. Life is basically a mess for me right now and getting through each day is like a mammoth task. And I found this realistic book. I'm not any better now but I love so many lines of this book. They're like a guide for me. To
Stacey Lee
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Samantha dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. The only problem is that she has gained 14 lbs. Her parents are divorced, and her mother focuses all her energy on her helping her daughter achieve her dream. When Sam has started having panic attacks from the new weight gain, her mom enrolls her in an intensive therapy 'camp' for stressed out teens, a motley assortment of artists and athletes with their own issues to work out, led by a psychiatrist and two assistants.

This is the kind of
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Un très bon YA qui traite de sujets psychologiques pas faciles. J'aimerais bien avoir des nouvelles des autres pensionnaires.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2017
......damn I loved this
This review also appears on my blog, Reading with Jenna.

How it Feels to Fly is a beautiful coming-of-age, mental health story about overcoming anxiety and other barriers to become the person you want to be. It deals with body image, self-confidence and other anxieties that performers may suffer from.

This was such a relatable story. Our main character, Sam, is a ballerina and wants nothing more than to be a professional dancer. However, in recent years, she’s developed curves and her body is no l
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Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband, daughter, 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 and How It Feels to Fly.
“Fighting's all I'm doing. It's just that it's hard to win when you're fighting yourself.” 3 likes
“I'm angry at my brain for not being able to handle, like, life.' I finally spit out. 'For screwing up everything I care about. I am so, so mad at myself.” 3 likes
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