How It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Genre: YA Contemporary, Mental Health
Published June 14th 2016 by HarperTeen
Length: 368 pages
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 appearance, which threatens to crush her dancing dreams entirely. On her dance teacher’s recommendation, Sam is sent to a summer treatment camp for teen artists and athletes who are struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. If she can make progress, she’ll be allowed to attend a crucial ballet intensive. But when asked to open up about her deepest insecurities, secret behaviors, and paralyzing fears to complete strangers, Sam can’t cope.
What I really need is a whole new body.
Sam forms an unlikely bond with Andrew, a former college football player who’s one of her camp counselors. As they grow closer, Andrew helps Sam see herself as he does—beautiful. But just as she starts to believe that there’s more between them than friendship, disappointing news from home sends her into a tailspin. With her future uncertain and her body against her, will Sam give in to the anxiety that imprisons her?
Trigger warnings: anxiety, panic attacks
HOW IT FEELS TO FLY follows our main character, Sam, who attends a therapy camp with the goal to control her anxiety to avoid a possible panic attack before her summer ballet intensive. The plot of this novel was quite foreign to me, as I had never really read a book that dealt specifically with therapy and anxiety as closely as this book had. Thus, I really appreciated how the author dealt with these sort of issues in her book, which I personally found to be well-done.
The characters were also pretty well-written. Sam is a character I could connect with instantly, and although it was sort of hard to read this novel, I really appreciated the portrayal of Sam and her inner thoughts. There was also a nice mix of secondary characters, who, with more development, also have their own problems that they were dealing with that made them seem more relatable, which I also really liked.
Additionally, there is a romance in this book but it didn’t go as I had expected, which, in hindsight, I think, was for the best. I especially enjoyed this book because it didn’t go the usual route, in which the main character magically becomes better with the companionship of a boy. As a result, I found HOW IT FEELS TO FLY to be realistic and not far-fetched at all in regards to where the characters ended up by the end and how the book wrapped up.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was emotional yet understanding and sensitive to mental health issues, which I think makes this book a fantastic addition to young adult literature. In short, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY takes on mental health issues quite accurately and truly captures the true meaning of being human.
Thank you to HarperTeen for providing this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for this review.