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I threw my neck out in the middle of Swan Lake last night.
So begins the tale of Kate Crane, a soloist in a celebrated New York City ballet company who is struggling to keep her place in a very demanding world. At every turn she is haunted by her close relationship with her younger sister, Gwen, a fellow company dancer whose career quickly surpassed Kate’s, but who has recently suffered a breakdown and returned home.
Alone for the first time in her life, Kate is anxious and full of guilt about the role she may have played in her sister’s collapse. As we follow her on an insider tour of rehearsals, performances, and partners onstage and off, she confronts the tangle of love, jealousy, pride, and obsession that are beginning to fracture her own sanity. Funny, dark, intimate, and unflinchingly honest, The Cranes Dance is a book that pulls back the curtains to reveal the private lives of dancers and explores the complicated bond between sisters.
Howrey s engaging new novel (after Blind Sight) exposes the competitive world of professional ballet through Kate Crane, a charmingly sarcastic ballerina at a crossroads. Kate s younger sister, Gwen, who dances in the same company and is a better dancer than Kate, has come back to her family after an emotional collapse for which Kate feels responsible. Gwen s absence from the stage gives Kate opportunities, but the sisters have been struggling with competition and support for so long that Kate, trying to define herself without her sister, is uncomfortable with success. Already at a point where age and the limits of her talent are making her confront the future, Kate suffers an injury and spirals into guilt and depression in the novel s dark second half. Though the plot moves slowly and secrets are disclosed too late, Kate is an ideal guide to an unfamiliar world, from her irreverent explanations of her ballets (Howrey was a professional dancer) to her relatable self-doubt and honesty. Her revelations about family, talent, and what makes us special create a thought-provoking and entertaining read.