Release Date: June 14th, 2016
Date Read: 6/13/16 to 6/14/16
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?
I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.
How It Feels To Fly is no easy read. It focuses on the struggle of anxiety, how it impacts life, and the process for treatment. As eye opening as this was however, I just do not think I was in the right mood for this.
Sam is an amazing ballerina, ready to start her summer intensive. But before she can begin, she attends treatment camp, to try and "fix" her anxiety about her weight and appearance. There, she meets a wide cast of characters that help her, even though at first glance it doesn't seem like it.
One of the greatest things about this novel is how it throws away all of your misconceptions when it comes to living with anxiety, and coping with it. For starters, the synopsis does not tell you the whole story, especially when it comes to Andrew. I will not spoil what happens, but I do have to say that I did not like Andrew one bit. Even though he may have had good intentions.
Then, there is Zoe, who is Sam's roommate at camp. I really could not tolerate her at all. First off, she did not want to be there, only signing up to go to get out of tennis. Second, she constantly teased the other campers. It made me mad. It just seems so destructive for her to be in another person's safe space. I couldn't fathom why she was allowed to stay for so long. Although to be fair, she does change through the novel. However she still has a long, long way to go.
It is clear to see that how much of an impact the anxiety has on Sam. The little voice in her head continuously tells her she's not good enough, not skinny enough, that everyone is looking at her and judging. Even though she may not have an eating disorder, she'd rather eat alone than let others see her eat.
The worst part about all of this, is what started it all. Ballet. Honestly, I might just avoid books about ballet altogether, because it makes me sick reading about it. I'm just going to assume that it really is true that fat girls are discriminated against. No wonder Sam had anxiety with her appearance, nearly everyone in her ballet group talked about her behind her back! I just...she went through some horrible experiences, and it just makes me rage. (And I felt the same with with Tiny Pretty Things. Do these things really happen in ballet?)
How It Feels To Fly really is an important read. Unfortunately I couldn't completely enjoy the novel because of how mad I was, leading me to even be mad at things I knew I would have enjoyed. Plus, this reminded me a lot of Paperweight, which also features a treatment camp but focused solely on eating disorders.