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Reviews of They're Going to Love You by Meg Howrey

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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    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • 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

Book Summary

A magnetic tale of betrayal, art, and ambition, set in the world of professional ballet, New York City during the AIDS crisis, and present-day Los Angeles.

Throughout her childhood, Carlisle Martin got to see her father, Robert, for only a few precious weeks a year when she visited the brownstone apartment in Greenwich Village he shared with his partner, James. Brilliant but troubled, James gave Carlisle an education in all that he held dear in life—literature, music, and, most of all, dance.

Seduced by the heady pull of mentorship and hoping to follow in the footsteps of her mother—a former Balanchine ballerina—Carlisle's aspiration to become a professional ballet dancer bloomed. But above all else, she longed to be asked to stay at the house on Bank Street, to be a part of Robert and James's sophisticated world, even as the AIDS crisis brings devastation to their community. Instead, a passionate love affair created a rift between the family, with shattering consequences that reverberated for decades to come. Nineteen years later, when Carlisle receives a phone call that unravels the events of that fateful summer, she sees with new eyes how her younger self has informed the woman she's become.

They're Going to Love You is a gripping and gorgeously written novel of heartbreaking intensity. With psychological precision and a masterfully revealed secret at its heart, it asks what it takes to be an artist in America, and the price of forgiveness, of ambition, and of love.


Feel what I feel.

Stand with your legs together, toes pointing forward. Open your hips so the backs of your knees are touching. Slide the heel of one foot in front of the other until it meets the toes. This is fifth position.

Under certain conditions (flexibility, training) your two feet will be firmly locked together: heel to toe and toe to heel. Your knees will be straight, your pelvis will sit squarely above your knees. It's not natural but it is elegant. Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man but pulled together and not human spreading all over the place.


Fifth is a position to begin things from. Fifth is a frequent point of return. It's also itself. Movement. Dance, even if it is still.

See what I see.

James is teaching class. He wears a soft T-shirt and a pair of loose sweatpants. The soles of his dance sneakers are split like ballet slippers so he can demonstrate a pointed toe more easily. He's a little vain about his feet, their high arches.

"— And contain," James says, as ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. There is an act of betrayal at the heart of this novel, with repercussions for all. Did you find yourself taking a side in this betrayal? Did your allegiance to a particular character's point of view ever shift?
  2. James is an important mentor for Carlisle. Have you had a mentor in your life? How do you feel they impacted the person you've become? Was there a moment when this relationship altered?
  3. Bank Street is a character in itself. Discuss the property both as a place and as a metaphor. What meaning does Carlisle ascribe to it and how does that meaning change throughout the novel? Was there a place, a group, or a setting, you longed to join as a young person?
  4. What do you think of when someone says "ballet"? Was there any ...
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BookBrowse Review


The characters are beautifully drawn. As the timeline shifts back and forth between Carlisle's adolescence and adulthood (giving equal focus to both), truths are gradually revealed. These provide further context and reveal the motivations of each character, making them feel all the more layered and believable. Through these portrayals, Howrey effectively demonstrates how complicated love can be, and how it's often those we love most that we cause the most harm. Understated yet gripping, this emotionally intense novel is ultimately about the lasting ties of family and the importance of learning how to forgive — both others and ourselves...continued

Full Review (512 words)

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(Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Howrey, a former dancer with the Joffrey Ballet, brings an insider's view of the discipline to this buzzy novel, which is about a young choreographer grappling with painful family memories.

Seattle Times
Howrey's writing is precise and eloquent, like finely tuned ballet, but above all, this soul-stirring novel is about love, loyalty and one's lifelong relationship to art.

Booklist (starred review)
[A] novel about devotion, art, and love in many forms...Howrey's prose invites readers to feel the emotion of each dance, beautifully translating physical and visual art onto the page...Howrey's incisive character studies create a heart-wrenching story of love and loss.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Howrey goes back and forth between Carlisle's present and her past...landing, like a flawless jeté, on the side of pitch-perfect poignancy. Howrey, a former dancer who joined the Joffrey Ballet when she was just a teenager, writes as movingly about the world of dance as any living author. Even better is her incisive and effortless writing about relationships—between parent and child, between queer lovers—in all their complex mess and beauty. 'Agony is ordinary,' thinks Carlisle—this novel is anything but.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A poignant family story of alienation, regret, and desire...Howrey expertly builds tension, leading the reader to feel alongside Carlisle both the draw of ballet and her anxiety about her reunion with her father. It's a breathtaking performance.

Author Blurb Jami Attenberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Middlesteins and All This Could Be Yours
They're Going to Love You is my idea of a perfect book. It is about art, life, death, love, and family and it is beautifully and sharply written. I cried several times while reading it, and was sorry to let it go when I was done. I cannot recommend it enough.

Author Blurb Lauren Mechling, author of How Could She
Reading this potent novel, I kept thinking of the Elvis Costello quote: 'Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.' In much the same way, dramatizing the dance world is no easy feat, and Meg Howrey has stuck the landing. They're Going to Love You is a portrait of passion and beauty at its most electric and unflinching. You're going to love this book.

Author Blurb Maile Meloy, author of Do Not Become Alarmed
Meg Howrey's They're Going to Love You is swift and sinewy and intense—like the ballet dancers who populate it. It's about vocation, longing, and complicated family love, and it's guaranteed to make you weep.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Stravinsky's The Firebird

Black and white picture of ballerina in costume from The Firebird in 1936-1937The protagonist in Meg Howrey's novel, They're Going to Love You, is a choreographer, hired to create a new adaptation of Igor Stravinsky's renowned ballet, The Firebird. First staged in Paris in 1910, it is often credited as the show that catapulted the composer to international fame.

The ballet's story is based primarily on the creature of the same name from Russian folklore, incorporating characters and plot elements from several traditional fairy tales, and often thought to take inspiration from Yakov Polonsky's popular 1844 children's poem, Winter Journey. We follow Prince Ivan, who spares the life of the eponymous Firebird while hunting in the forest. In exchange for his mercy, the bird gifts the prince one of her enchanted ...

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