Excerpt from They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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They're Going to Love You

A Novel

by Meg Howrey

They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey X
They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2022, 288 pages

    Sep 2023, 288 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
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About this Book

Print Excerpt

James stops. It's been so long since he's been surprised.

Imagine what I imagine.

Alex has been listening hard.


"Being still within music."


Something turns over in Alex's mind, like a combination lock sliding into its last number.

He raises his heels, shifts his weight to the balls of his feet, recrosses his legs. He lifts his arms. He is still.

James watches.

The music plays. Masha vamps, giving the dancers time to find their balance, "find their center," as they say.

What Alex finds is that his body has changed. Somehow, James's words are within him. He understands he is a container. For music, for movement. These are things he can hold and control. It's a small click of rightness that opens everything. He's never felt like this without drugs.

This boy, this young man, did, in fact, come to ballet late and his love for it still embarrasses him. The culture, the music, the costumes, none of it is "for" him. He's a straight man, a mixed-race American kid, a lower middle-class boy. He should be putting his coordination, his strength and flexibility, to use in some other field. Why should he prance around stage in makeup and tights, pretending to be a prince?

In his teens, he justified his obsession by calling it an escape, an opportunity, a place to meet hot girls. He could jump and he could turn. He was a boy; he got scholarships. Now, his career has started and he's ambitious. He doesn't understand why he's also a little depressed. He doesn't like the way he dances.

He wants it all to mean something. Ballet. His life, maybe.

Now, in James's class, for the first time, he sees how he might make something. In stillness. With his body, which is not perfect, and his mind, which is a total shitshow. He's twenty-two.

He's beautiful. He's making beauty.

He doesn't feel like a man or a kid or a boy.

He feels like a god. "But not in an asshole way." (This is what Alex tells me, when I hear his side of the story. Except for style and point of view, it's the same as James's version. If they were unreliable narrators, they were—in this—a perfect pair.)

James watches Alex feel like a god.

Perhaps a bar of light penetrates the speckled grime of a nearby window and goldens Alex's cheek, his clavicle, a sinew of his raised arm. The features of his face are too harsh for conventional beauty, but everyone looks noble in chiaroscuro.

"Yes," says James, nodding at the young man and raising a finger. "That's exactly what I mean. Beautiful."

Alex looks at James. Confirmation. He's not crazy. What he feels is real and someone sees it. James.

James finds himself shaping the class around the young man, testing strengths and probing weaknesses. He watches his words take shape in the boy's body. It's one kind of power to understand, and another to bestow understanding. James feels something in his chest and notices that he's happy. When class ends, he sits on a little chair in the corner for a few minutes, approachable. He accepts gratitude and exchanges gossip. Alex hangs back, wanting a little privacy. Later, he will tell James he was afraid he might embarrass himself, say something stupid. Words aren't his thing. But when it's just the two of them and James is looking at him with kindness and interest, he does his best.

"I learned more in the past ninety minutes than I've learned in my whole fucking life," Alex says. "I'm going to be in New York for the summer. I want to, I mean, is there a way I can study with you? Is there a way, even, I don't know if you coach privately or, maybe we could, I don't know."

What he wants to say is "I feel as if I've only now been born."

"Yes," says James, in just the right way. With gravity, with depth. "Let's work together. All right."

"I need—" Alex says, and then stops. He needs a lot. "I need someone to—" He can't finish the sentence. It's not that he needs help, although he does need that. But help has been given to him. He's a man who wants to dance ballet, he's had no trouble being seen. What he needs is for someone to help him see himself. He needs love. He needs a friend. He needs beauty. He needs someone to talk to him about art. He needs—

Excerpted from They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey. Copyright © 2022 by Meg Howrey. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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