They're Going to Love You: A Novel

Image of They're Going to Love You: A Novel
Release Date: 
November 15, 2022
Reviewed by: 

“A beautiful, compelling portrait of dance . . sure to become a book group favorite, rich in discussion topics that are as provocative as they are complex.”

The title of Meg Howrey’s They’re Going to Love You is cleverly ironic title since nobody in the book gets the love they feel they deserve, not from family, nor from their careers. Yes, there’s love, but it’s not enough or is somehow deflected as the characters get in the way of themselves in a range of interesting and nuanced situations.

The book offers a beautiful, compelling portrait of dance, those who choose such a difficult profession and how it defines more than a career, but a deep sense of self. Howrey writes skillfully about ballet, both the physically weight (and airiness) of it, and the choreography of it, the story that skillful movements can offer the viewer. She helps us see this art form from the inside out, a rare gift.

Carlisle, the narrator, is born into a dancing family, and can’t remember a time when dance wasn’t her whole world. How she fits (or doesn’t) into both her family and the world of ballet shifts as she grows and finds her own way. The plot is set into motion with the impending death of her father, as the reader is slowly led to discover the defining event between Carlisle, her father Robert, and her father’s husband James The rift that kept Carlisle away from Robert and James for nearly 20 years looms large over the characters, creating a narrative tension that carries through to the end of the book. The theme of forgiving, of whether that heals or compromises us, resonates as all the threads are braided together into a unifying vision.

Howrey excels at depicting family dynamics in all their contradictions. People talk past each other, each holding on to their own fractured image of what they want and deserve, who they are and what their rightful places are. None of the main characters, not Carlisle, Robert, nor James, fit into the cracked mirror of the reality they each peer into. They each see into a glass darkly, blinded by their own assumptions. As Carlisle recognizes:

“We all had a part to play in what went wrong between us, but they put me in a bad position and then punished me for it. I’m no longer angry, but I have to take care of myself.”

Will Carlisle find her way back to the sense of dance and family she cherished as a child? Can there be healing after a lifetime of abandonment? And how much can family sustain or damage us? What can children reasonably expect from their parents and vice versa? They’re Going to Love You raises many more questions than it answers, which is the sign of a book that stays with you long after you finish the last page. This is a story sure to become a book group favorite, rich in discussion topics that are as provocative as they are complex.