Sara's Reviews > The Cranes Dance

The Cranes Dance by Meg Howrey
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's review
Mar 15, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, 2012, adult-fiction

Kate and Gwen are sisters and professional ballerinas in the same company. Although Gwen is considered the superior ballerina, Kate stepped into her professional roles after Gwen had a nervous breakdown and was sent to live with their parents. Even without Gwen there, Kate feels her sister's presence in every move she makes and desperately wants things to be normal between them again. Unfortunately, Gwen won't talk to Kate and Kate is struggling with the guilt she feels for not recognizing Gwen's problems earlier and giving up on trying to take care of her.

Kate narrates the book in almost train-of-thought descriptions. She's conscious of writing for an "invisible audience", although it's never fully clear who, precisely, she thinks she's writing the story for or why. The narration goes back and forth in time, letting the reader "see" Kate and Gwen together and understand their bond, despite Gwen already being out of New York City when the book begins. Both sisters have their own personalities and it's easy to see how much they love each other, despite their competitive spirits. Kate's extreme love for ballet is also evident, as she describes ballets and the life of a dancer in detail. The author did a wonderful job bringing these loves to life and making the reader both care and understand why she's so dedicated despite the struggles she's had to face.

This is definitely more of a psychologically-driven novel than a plot-driven one. The plot is there, of course, but it's not so much about what happens in the end as it is about the journey the sisters have made, both together and separately, and the struggles Kate faces as she tries to navigate the world on her own, keeping the secret of Gwen's illness to herself. This sort of book is not for everyone, but I thought it made for a very interesting, haunting read. Because there was no strong plot, the ending did not seem particularly strong or all-encompassing, but the characters have stayed with me and I really liked the way this novel provided a glimpse into their lives during this brief period of time.

I received a free advanced copy of this book through the First Reads program.

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