Four years ago, a car accident ended Zedekiah Harrow’s ballet career and sent Philadelphia Ballet principal dancer Alyona Miller spinning toward the breakdown that suspended her own. What they lost on the side of the road that day can never be replaced, and grief is always harshest under a spotlight…
Now twenty-three, Zed teaches music and theatre at a private school in Washington, D.C. and regularly attends AA meetings to keep the pain at bay. Aly has returned to D.C. to live with her mother while trying to recover from the mental and physical breakdown that forced her to take a leave of absence from the ballet world, and her adoring fans.
When Zed and Aly run into each other in a coffee shop, it’s as if no time has passed at all. But without the buffer and escape of dance—and with so much lust, anger and heartbreak hanging between them—their renewed connection will either allow them to build the together they never had… or destroy the fragile recoveries they’ve only started to make.
1) Best Part of this Book?
I have three things to talk about here, and I’m not how to because they’re all intertwined: the writing, the love story, and the portrayal of mental illness.
When I say love story, I don’t just mean between Aly and Zed (though that too, they’re absolutely beautiful and electrifying and soul-shattering together) but between both characters and ballet. And this is where the gorgeous, lyrical writing comes in–the way Aly and Zed think about each other and about dance is powerful and brimming with emotion. During some of the dance numbers in the series, I could actually hear music in my head.
And then Aly has anxiety and an eating disorder, and Zed is a recovering alcoholic, and the portrayal of that is excellent as well. There are short chapters where Aly talks to her therapist throughout the books, and a lot of what she says completely mirrors what’s in my head at times. Also, I love that the series consistently treats mental illness not as something to be fixed, but as something to be managed.
2) Favorite character?
Aly has a special place in my heart, just because her issues with anxiety mirror my own so much. She also has very good taste in tea.
3) Worst part of this book?
The pacing was not great–particularly a quarter of the way into the second book, when Aly and Zed were rehashing the same issues over and over, which is true to real life but not the most interesting thing to read about. I was also very bored by the prequel, though maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d read it after the other two and not before.
4) Favorite Quote?
“There will be bad days. What if the bad days are too bad?”
“There were bad days before this, and we’ll handle any bad days to come. I promise. That’s what we do, Aly. We’re pretty good at weathering storms.”
5) Was it what’s Expected?
In terms of the general outline of the story, yes. In terms of the writing and its effect on me, definitely not. I ended up a lot more invested than I thought I would be.
Yes! If you’re interested in ballet, or second-chance romance, or mental illness (and physical disability) representation, or writing that will make you Feel Things, you should definitely pick up this duology.