Cover Image: They're Going to Love You

They're Going to Love You

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Member Reviews

They're Going to Love You is a tender and heartbreaking story that captures nuance of family tension and coming of age. The writing is poetic and lyrical, which perfectly mirrors the story. This one surprised me and is a can't miss. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Doubleday Books for the ARC - They're Going to Love You is out now!
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Thank you so much to netgalley for a review copy of They’re Going to Love You in exchange for an honest review 🫶 God, I was gasping at the last 20 or so pages of this book nonstop. The drama was intense! I really loved the portrayal of movement and dance in this, as a theater kid it really made me miss the whole rehearsal process, the act of putting together a show and loving all of the little backstage moments the audience doesn’t get to see, trying to make all of the moving parts and the jumbled ideas in your head come to life. Although I found this a bit slow to start, and some of the thematic elements to be unfocused at times, overall I really enjoyed this and it is one of the most dramatic things I’ve read in a while. (in a very good way)
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This one is a quiet burn, the kind of novel that leads to a swell of deep and intense emotion at the end. You’re left, Reader, with a sense of loss at the end, a feeling that you’ve experienced something very intimate, that maybe you shouldn’t have, but you had to — and you did — and now you’re left to think about the memory of the novel. They’re Going to Love You sticks in your mind like taffy to the roof of your mouth, a lingering taste of sweet and salty. Maybe a little sour.

They’re Going to Love You is a story about parenting, being a child, being a child to parents who are human and flawed. It is also a story about the fragility of relationships and the unpredictable strength of them. It’s a story about the trials of family, the values that are assumed in a family unit, assumed because of blood and marriage and birth. It is also a story of betrayal and grief, of not having what we assume we should have or of losing what we felt we should never have been able to lose.

The novel revolves around and is narrated through the eyes of a young girl who becomes a young woman and then a middle aged woman. She is a dancer and the daughter of dancers, ballet dancers in the heady and chaotic New York city scene of the mid-twentieth century. The father is a gay man, openly so, and there is a step-father. Then there is her mother, a former ballerina. The parents expect a lot from the girl. This is a story about expectations and hopes and dreams that are ours and also, not our own.

As the girl grows up there are things she learns about her privileged life and the expectations of her privileged life and the ways in which people look at her from outside her life. She learns about love from her parents and from their divorce and from their forced interactions on her account. She learns about love from her father’s gay friends. She learns about betrayal from her parents and what it means to forgive.

The novel is also about death and the finiteness of this life and of love. It is about realities underlying the fantasy of a ballet-infused, performed life.

Howrey’s prose is stark and cutting. It is dark and yet also childish, implying childhood is in fact a darker space and time than we are often led to believe. The characters are children and adults and you are not sure who is the adult and who is the child sometimes. The dialogue is authentic, sometimes painfully so, too reminiscent of our own familial traumas.

There is an element of this book that prickled me, for as much as I praise it: the characters are insufferably privileged. They are white, wealthy, part of the exclusive milieu of pretentious NYC. The main character is a nepo baby, whether she thinks so or not. So is her father. Intergenerational privilege abounds in this novel. This is a world that exists for a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the world’s population. It’s not my world, for sure.

But, that is what novels are for (in part): entries into worlds unknown.
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A solid and immensely readable piece by Howrey. This is a story of Carlisle, a child of ballet dancers and a ballet dancer herself. We dance back and forth from her childhood to her current life in her 40s. The beginning of the story focuses on building the characters of her father (Robert), his partner (James), and her mother (Isabel), and dives deep into the AIDS crisis, performance culture, and mental illness. We find out why Carlisle has been estranged from her father for 19 years. We laugh. We cry. 

I did have a bit of an issue with the reveal of the reason for estrangement. With so much build up, I was a little let down. 

I still think it deserves 4 stars. Cheers to complicated relationships with parents.
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Honestly, I was incredibly surprised that I liked this book as much as I did. I'm not normally one who likes modern-age books filled with pages full of fluff writing that tries to pass itself off as being poetic and introspective, like this book definitely did. I didn't even love the big secret plot twist that caused the big rift between Carlisle and her dad; I thought it was corny and honestly SUPER overly dramatic.

And yet... I really did enjoy reading this. Will I pick it up again? Probably not. Will I remember anything about it in another month (other than the fact that I envisioned James to be Martin Short for some reason)? Not a chance. But it still was interesting enough to hold my attention, and there were some parts that actually made me a little teary-eyed. Thinking about being alive during the AIDS epidemic, especially while envisioning myself with a gay father, made me truly feel for Carlisle and everyone who had to experience such a thing.

Definitely won't be a book that everyone will love or appreciate, but I think it definitely is worth at least a try!
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Thank you to Net Galley, the author, and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

I thought I would love this book more than I did. Back in the early-to-mid 2000s, I was all about a dance movie. It was a good time to be alive. We had Center Stage. We had Black Swan. We had Save the Last Dance. These kinds of narratives HIT. I was expecting that dormant fascination with dance culture to really emerge as I read this.

And yet, I wasn't really invested in the dance-related elements of this plot at all. That's likely on me. I know Meg Howrey is a dancer, herself. So, people who are more familiar with dance/ballet beyond a surface-level of understanding (and whose repertoire of dance media includes more than the dramas I mentioned) were likely able to appreciate her knowledge on the topic more than I did.

That being said, what I was captivated by were the characters and the complex dynamics between them. The story follows Carlisle Martin, a woman who has been estranged from her father and his partner, James, for roughly 19 years. We're not clued into why that is for quite some time, which held my interest throughout. I really wanted to know the source of this tension between them. James reaches out to Carlisle to inform her that Robert is dying. And it is for this reason that Carlisle is forced to revisit everything that transpired between them.

I think Meg Howrey did an excellent job of creating characters that I felt invested in. I cared about James, despite not agreeing with much of what he said and did throughout. I empathized with Robert, despite finding his actions to be pretty emotionally immature. I felt incredibly bad for Carlisle, who spent the entire story - even in adulthood - feeling like she wasn't someone that anyone loved the most. Her father's idea of family was his partner. Her mother's new husband and child evoked a different sort of love and bond. And while all of these people were so incredibly important to her, she is (in various ways) mistreated by all of them.

That part of this story is the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. I don't think Meg Howrey's writing style is my personal favorite. While I understand why more time and attention was given to other aspects of the story, I really was just in it for the family drama.
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I really struggled to get invested in this story. Even though the writing was beautiful, the pacing just felt very slow and weighed down with a lot of ballet descriptions. As it progressed, and particularly once Alex entered the picture, the story became much more interesting to me and kept me engaged through the remainder of the book. Overall, the sense that I was just waiting for the inevitable (her father’s death) did little to keep me invested until the drama of the past, which was hinted at throughout the first 70% of the story, was finally addressed.
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Thank you for the opportunity to review this title. 
I enjoyed the elements of the story relating to ballet as this is something I have little knowledge of, but would have appreciated more of this element and less of the melodramatic depictions of the relationships between the characters. On a very personal note, I do not enjoy stories where the whole plot could have been avoided with some simple adult communication between characters, and I felt this novel to be like this. I also felt that a lot of the first half of the novel was overwritten and unnecessary - it seemed like quite a build up to “the event” and then quickly rushing to the end and the “resolution”.
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This book, like it's cover, is absolutely stunning.  I didn't know much about his book before picking it up and I was wowed the entire time.   I love family drama and this one had plenty.  I loved the details about the dance world, the father/daughter relationship, the coming of age story, the AIDS crisis and so much more.  This was like reading a book of art.  Beautiful and will definitely be included in my top 10 of the year.
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Ballet + betrayal + love + loss + family relationships + NYC in the 80s + the AIDS crisis + art + passion = a beautifully written, must-read story.
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Unfortunately I was not able to finish this title. While I really did love the main character’s observations on life and love, especially as a teenager, I found that for me most of the story felt too slow to develop. I think perhaps I was just the wrong audience for this book because I do not have an appreciation for ballet. I do think it was beautifully written and thoughtful and may pick it up at another time to try again.
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4.5. This carries the same mournful energy that The Great Believers does, and it's a beautiful story following Carlisle's fraught and tender relationship with her father and his partner. The dance world that they are all immersed in together was so well fleshed-out, and I felt connected to and sympathetic for every character in this story. My most complicated emotions were for Carlisle herself, and I grappled with understanding and disliking her before returning to compassion. Overall a gorgeous story with an intense emotional impact, and I really loved the audio!
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This novel starts in the present day with main character Carlisle, who is in her 40s, being summoned by her dad’s partner James to come see him, as her dad, who she has been estranged from for 19 years, is dying. The book then flashes back to Carlisle’s childhood through her early 20s, interspersed with moments of her in the present day, much of it centered on the short time each year that she would leave her mom in Ohio to spend time with her dad and James in NYC, and eventually, towards the end of the book, we finally find out what happened to rupture her relationship with her dad.

It’s part coming of age novel, part family drama - and, with just about all the characters, including Carlisle herself, being either current or former ballet dancers or choreographers, steeped in the world of ballet. I know pretty much nothing about ballet, but still found those parts very interesting.

It’s definitely a quiet book, and a slow starter, but the writing is just beautiful, and the characters are unique and indelible. And the ending was just so great and emotionally powerful.

If you like quiet literary novels, or authors like Lily King, highly recommend this one.
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This is a book about dance and love. It’s also a book about family - biological and chosen. It’s about health - mental and physical. It’s a book about passion as well. It’s a tough read at times, but ultimately a redeeming one. It’ll stay with me.

Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for sharing this book with me. All thoughts are my own.
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I quit ballet early (I had “bad feet” and also “didn’t like it”), but started early, so I danced long enough to learn about Balanchine hands. It’s a hand position popularized by choreographer George Balanchine that’s meant to be refined and controlled, but also expressive. It has to look soft, but could never really be soft. Four fingers are delicately curved, but to near rigidity, thoughtfully counterweighted by the placement of the thumb. They are graceful; they are not limp. They’re alive and calculated. Some people call them Balanchine claws.

They’re Going to Love You is elegant in this way. Carlisle, it’s narrator, is a 40ish choreographer (and ballet nepo baby?) who precisely goes about her work, her art, and her life, often to please others. “I’m good at assuring people I don’t need anything from them,” she says, “and for a while doing so makes me feel pretty great about myself.” 

She grows up between her mother in LA and her father in New York. Her mother, a retired and disillusioned dancer, has a new husband and a young son she seems to love more easily than she does Carlisle. Her father, a lauded choreographer, is remarried and navigating the despair of the AIDS crisis with his ballet teacher partner, James. They mostly treat Carlisle like an adult. She does her best to pretend she is one.

Carlisle is too tall to be a dancer, like her mother, but she loves to dance. As a teen she stays with her father and James at their beautiful home in New York, where she has they chance to take classes and seek their approvals for her dancing, as well as her lack of need. She loves the place deeply, until she makes a decision that results in a falling out with her father. When the book begins, they haven’t spoken each other in 20 years. He’s dying.

Meg Howrey’s descriptions of the ballet world, the bodies and the movements, are vivid. Her history as a professional dancer is clear in her specificity and her knowledge of pain. She quotes Balanchine, saying, “there are no mothers-in-law in ballet.” In other words, there’s no room for working out families and their complex relationships. But repeatedly Carlisle ponders on “undanceable things” and tries to make them expressible, controllable, to fit them into her hands. Her relationship with her mother, her want to be the person someone loves most, her possibly cutthroat creative ambition- all of it she’d like to contain in a dance. Her dancing makes up for the things she can’t talk through, even at her father’s deathbed.

But what she’s commissioned for is much more simplistic, a ballet about monsters. She takes it, for the money, but finds herself struggling to care. Claws are less interesting when they’re allowed to look like claws.
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What a marvelous novel that encapsulates the messy and painful experience of growing up. Carlisle's story slightly broke my heart as she weaved her way through forgotten dreams, the harsh reality of idol worship, and needing to grieve someone living. All of this set within the bright and blinding world of ballet made for a captivating read. 100/10 would recommend!
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Although I began to read this book because it was reported to be about ballet and dance, I ended up loving it because of the characters.  Carlisle seems to have it all, (even though her all is different from most) and yet it ends in an estrangement that lasts for years.  The book deals with what leads up to the estrangement, which is probably the most traumatic incident in her life.  Although the book does not have a "happy" ending, it does have a satisfying ending, which makes the whole read worth it.  The insights into the dance world and the AIDS infused gay world of Greenwich Village in the 1980s make the book seem that much more authentic.
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Meg Howrey still does ballet better than anyone. The opening scene in THE CRANES DANCE, where the main character takes you through the absolutely bonkers plot of SWAN LAKE is some of the best character-building sports writing ever. The arc of this book is soft and slow and sweet and really really really sad. It's a perfectly grown-up novel that shows Howrey has range, and still writes dance like no one else.
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Meg Howrey transported us into the world of ballet, so if you are a dancer this read will be perfect for you. However, as an outsider to the dance world I still really enjoyed this story as it was more about complicated family dynamics, the journey of creating a life you love, and forgiveness. 

Carlisle Martin always had dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Her mother was one and her father and his partner James were both successful leaders in the industry. However, living in Ohio with her mom, she craved the few weeks she would spend on Bank Street in NYC with her father Robert, and James. Her main desire as a young girl was to stay in their orbit and be included in their world. 

The story begins as we see 40-year-old Carlisle receive a phone call that takes us on the journey of uncovering why it’s been 19 years since she’s seen her father. 

This story took from New York City during the AIDS crisis to present-day LA. 
It was moving to get a glimpse into the experiences the gay community was facing during that time. 

“Having to struggle doesn’t necessarily make you interesting, it might just make you tired” 

All Carlisle wanted was to be the person someone loved best. Whether that was from her father, mother, James, or her partner. We assume partners will always make the right decisions but they are just as flawed. We often only receive fragments of people and are forced to make sense of the rest. 

The reasoning for their rift was unexpected and complicated. But I appreciated how the story ended. Life can result in so much wreckage but we still can have a life that is meaningful and loving despite it.
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A slow burn tragedy revolving around abandonment, the world of ballet, and yearning to belong. Carlisle grows up in the world of ballet. Her parents are separated, but both distinguished in the world of ballet. Her mother is preoccupied with her younger half-brother, and her father is dedicated to the survival of him and his partner, James, in New York in the midst of the AIDS crisis. It’s truly heartbreaking realizing Carlisle is no one’s favorite person, a visitor in her own family. The writing is lyrical and smooth, building up to an unraveling family. The author, Howrey, is a former dancer herself and it shows with the passion and emotion she brings to describing dance sequences to describe the emotional state of her characters. However, her strongest writing is when she slowly sits with the character’s darker emotions, particularly loneliness, grief, and betrayal. “A particular kind of glory that happens when we share our suffering and are seen… An exaltation. I’m loath to connect womanness with suffering, or suffering with greatness, but there it is.”
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