So, yes, this review is based on an ARC received free from the publisher.
Penelope Sparrow wakes up after miraculously surviving a fourteen story fall. Although her injuries are comparatively far less than what would be expected, it's unclear if she will ever be able to resume her career as a dancer. Penny will have to recover and confront her memories while trying to rebuild her body and discover her new place in the world.
I have to fess up: I took this book because the woman in the Sourcebooks booth who was handing it out made it sound like more of a psychological suspense book than it is. I thought Penny's major challenge was going to be trying to fill in the gap in her memory of what exactly she was doing falling out of a window. Instead, it's primarily a story about Penny trying to deal with her issues about her body and her mother. I tried not to hold it against the book that the sales pitch made me think that it was something that it wasn't, but I remained unimpressed.
Penny's shutting her mother out of the events of her career might have been reasonable as herself; if she is so worried about impressing her mother that she doesn't want to tell her anything until after she has already succeeded, that's a reasonable character choice. However, when her roommate Angela's mother can't always come when her CF sends her to the hospital because of her work, Penny's reaction is judgmental. Not only is there a lack of understanding, before she finds out what Dara Reed does, that maybe her work and her finances don't let her get away as often as Angela has to be hospitalized, but there's an incomprehensible contradiction about how much Penny expects mothers and daughters to be involved in each other's lives. I also found the way that Penny gets her first post-dance job to be frankly ridiculous, as was the fact that Angela wanted her as a roommate to help pay the rent but didn't discuss what her share of the rent would be as soon as the discussion of her moving in for real came up. I kept reading because I did want to find out how Penny fell and what would happen when she remembered, but I found Penny not unlikeable, but unknowable, which is unforgiveable in a first person narrator, and all of the non-dance aspects of her world to be deeply unrealistic. (I know very little about the world of dance but I would consider that part of her life to be at least believable, although I can't speak for accuracy.)
Overall Grade: C. The Art of Falling will be released 1/28.