Falling into Place
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: September 9th 2014
by Greenwillow Books
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
-A copy was provided by HarperCollins for review-
I was so torn on rating this one. While I truly enjoyed the writing and the depth of the story itself is incredible, I really did not like the main character. I realize she is a character we’re not supposed to like, per se. She’s not likeable, period. But contrary to many books I’ve read with unlikeable characters (Courtney Summers’ Some Girls Are come to mind), I never got to the point where I “got” her despite it all. She never learned, she never wanted to change, it was like she figured she was going to kill herself anyways so why bother being a better person.
So this was my only issue, but it was a big one. I could not get myself to be sad about a bully who’s depressed because she’s terrible, yet she KEEPS DOING terrible things!! She did not have redeemable qualities. I can feel sympathy for someone who makes mistakes that comes with emotional consequences from which they learn, but she was really like someone who cries after poking themselves in the eye, and yet KEEP POKING. Over and over. So, yes, her story is undoubtedly sad, but I felt like she didn’t deserve my sympathy. Maybe I’m just cold, maybe I just have an unbendable intolerance towards bullies, but it is what it is. I’m not saying she deserves to die, I’m not evil, just that I couldn’t bring myself to be sad about this inner turmoil she was fighting. This definitely affected how emotionally invested I was in her story. Mostly I was curious about what brought her to this situation, and if she would survive or not, which is what kept me captivated. Kind of like a train wreck you can’t help but stare at, you know.
With that said, the story is one that makes you feel as if you’re just about to topple. You don’t know which side, yet, but something is bound to happen at any moment. This is mostly due to the way in which it’s told, using a back and forth timeline that brings us closer and closer to its peak moment. The moment she tries to kill herself. From these flashbacks, you get to know the characters around her – her friends, her schoolmates, her family life/absentee mother – and see the social power she had over people. You see how people deal with grief, with impending loss and uncertainty. It was a powerfully emotional novel in that sense. I came to care a the most about Liam who, in my opinion, deserves so much more than a person like Liz. But I do like that he was willing to see through her bully armour and glimpse at the person she could be.
My first instinct was a 4-star, so that’s what I gave it; it really IS a great book with a lot to offer, but the main character sure made it hard to completely love it. Also, no matter how mean a person is, depression is still a very real and very frightening illness, and I applaud this book for this raw, honest look at such a serious topic.