In brief: The story of Carlisle’s relationship with her father and his partner James from 1980s New York to the present day.
The good: Very emotive at times.
The not-so-good: I am not a fan of ballet or dance!
Why I chose it: Thank you to Bloomsbury for the ARC.
Pages: 270 (ARC)
Setting: Mainly New York and Loas Angeles
Rating: 7 out of 10
They’re Going to Love You is a story of family, ambition and feeling an outsider than spans the breadth of America from the 1980s to current day. It covers huge dramas and the mundaneness of everyday life, all against the backdrop of ballet and dance.
Carlisle is the main character and the story jumps between the present day back to her youth in the 1980s, following her growth until the past meets present. It describes her parents’ relationship in the ballet scene in New York and their split. Her father falls in love with James, and Carlisle spends her summers with them in New York. Carlisle finds James fascinating, her parents much less so. But there is something that happens in her twenties that separates her from her father and James which is alluded to for most of the book, lauded as the ultimate betrayal. They don’t speak for years until Carlisle receives a call that her father is dying. It comes just as she’s offered the biggest breakthrough of her career. Can she forgive? Will she be forgiven?
A major part of the plot is dance, and in particular, ballet. How it led to success or failure, dreams made or broken. I am really not a fan of either so the descriptions of ballet positions, dance moves and choreography didn’t interest me. I much preferred the exploration of each character’s feelings of how dance left them broken or with regrets that interplayed with their lives. All the main characters have them, from Carlisle’s grandmother who wanted a ballet career for her daughter to James, who now teaches. There is some exploration of the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York amongst gay men which was moving and terrifying. I would have liked to read more of this, but I think it would have been difficult from the first person point of view of Carlisle as a child.
They’re Going to Love You is somewhat uneven in its pacing for me. I loved the first introduction to 1980s New York, but I found current day Carlisle somewhat boring as she mused over choreography. The novel is quite slow in the middle until the crucial story to the narrative is told. The grand betrayal that it alluded to takes a long time to reveal, and when it did, it didn’t really seem all that shocking. (Carlisle’s handling of it was childish and handled badly). It was the misunderstandings that caused the broken relationship between her and her father and it’s a tangle in the last section to unravel them. The final scenes as Carlisle makes peace with her family and everyone begins to understand and accept the past are the strongest. They are emotional, yet realistic. Howrey writes beautifully and with feeling in every sentence. If you’re a fan of ballet, you’ll devour this story.