Monday, August 03, 2015

Review: The Fall by James Preller

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I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Fall by James PrellerThe Fall by James Preller
Published by Feiwel & Friends on September 22nd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy on Amazon

Through his journal a boy deals with the death of a classmate, who committed suicide as a result of bullying.

The summer before school starts, Sam’s friend and classmate Morgan Mallen kills herself. Morgan had been bullied. Maybe she kissed the wrong boy. Or said the wrong thing. What about that selfie that made the rounds? Morgan was this, and Morgan was that. But who really knows what happened?

As Sam explores the events leading up to the tragedy, he must face a difficult and life-changing question: Why did he keep his friendship with Morgan a secret? And could he have done something—anything—to prevent her final actions?

As he did in Bystander, James Preller takes an issue that faces every student and school in the country, and makes it personal, accessible, and real.

I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of books about suicide and bullying lately. I suppose it’s a good thing because that means that there are more and more books out there covering the topic. Even though they all cover the same topic, the characters and situations are much different though. In this case it’s told by a boy who was kind of friends with the girl who committed suicide. What I mean by that is that he would secretly talk to her and hang out with her, but wouldn’t admit it out of fear of being judged. Of becoming a victim of the same bullying that she goes through. He is afraid, and after her death he needs to come to terms with things. We get to learn the story of their friendship and see how he is dealing with the aftermath of it.

Sam is a good kid. He just struggles with the same pressures that most kids do. When everyone at school is doing something, or thinks someone else is a social outcast, it’s hard to go against them out of fear of becoming a victim yourself. The most popular girl is mean and awful to Morgan, so the whole school instantly picks on her. There is a website that people post really mean things on. Including Sam. It’s part of what he is supposed to do. If the card gets put into your possession, it’s your turn and to not do it is to become one of the bullied yourself. Sam doesn’t want to, but he also wants to stay in good with the ones who run the school. What makes it harder is that he is friends with Morgan, but only in secret. He really does like her, but can’t let anyone find out. After her suicide, he writes a journal and talks to the school counselor. He needs to get his thoughts in order. Find himself. He really does have a good heart, but his revelations about how he behaved is a bit too late.

This was a heartbreaking account into a hidden friendship with a girl who is depressed. Someone who can’t take much more of the bullying and emotional pain. She thought that her friendship with Sam was true until he is too embarrassed to be seen with her. He tells her he can’t take the ridicule of what they will do or say to him at school. Morgan is the one who is bullied harshly, but he doesn’t see that she is hurting.He doesn’t understand that he was being a coward until it is too late and she’s already gone. He also see’s that she was anything but a coward. She faced everything head on and never showed that it hurt her. How he tries to redeem himself, for her, and for all affected was heartfelt and beautiful. I didn’t realize the emotional impact this book had on me until the very last sentence when it brought tears to my eyes. This was a heartbreaking and beautiful story about friendship, bullying, and the aftermath of all of it.


3.5 Hot Espressos

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I'm no good at this, but I'm a mom of one little girl who really thinks she is a princess. I love reading all sorts of books (horror being a favorite genre of mine), love meeting new people, drinking lots of coffee, and eating chocolate. If you want to know anything else about me, just ask.
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8 Responses to “Review: The Fall by James Preller”

  1. Marie

    Thank you for the nice review, Amy! I was searching for something new to read. Suicide books make me feel better in some way… it sounds bad but every time I read a suicide or depression book ( The Bell Jar for example) it makes me feel better about my life cuz I can see a other people have it much worse than me. Idk if this makes sense…
    Anyway, I think I am gonna buy The Fall.


  2. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Oh man, how many more suicide and bullying books are there going to be? It’s been such a rough reading year because of this. This one sounds like it’s a unique perspective from a hidden friend, but I wonder just how much more it adds. Lovely review Amy!

  3. Vane J.

    There have been many books this year that address hard topics. I think that’s a good thing, but of course, sometimes they can be difficult to get through. Great review, Amy. I will add this.

  4. Ksenia

    I agree, there are a lot of books dealing with suicide lately. I haven’t heard about this one, but it sounds interesting. Great review, Amy!

  5. James Preller

    Hi, Amy. Thank you for the thoughtful review of my book, THE FALL. Just a little background here. When I wrote BYSTANDER in 2009, it was the right book at the right time — just before the issue blew up on the national media and the politicians got involved. Funding in schools, etc. To my surprise, I had stumbled upon an “it” topic.

    In my visits to schools around the country, I was often asked about a sequel. I had no plans for one, not wired that way. But a few things started to happen in my mind. One, I saw the vilification of “the bully” and it didn’t easily jive with my perceptions. In most cases, I don’t actually believe in “the bully” per say; I understand “bullying” as a verb, a behavior, rather than as a label to stick on young person. So I began to think that if I ever approached the topic again, that’s where I wanted to go — from the perspective of a so-called bully. I wanted to write about it with sympathy and compassion, rather than finger-pointing and easy admonition. At the same time, I read some heartbreaking news reports about suicides, children who had been abused on social media, and so on. That’s how I came to write this book.

    It is uncomfortable for me to feel like this book is part of a tidal wave of books on the topic. That’s never been how I’ve operated my career. My hope is that the first-person journal format brings something fresh and vital to the conversation.

    Again, thank you for reading the book.

    My best,

    James Preller