I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
Published by HarperTeen on December 9th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, YA
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Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.
When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.
Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.
I was extremely bored while reading this. Even at 80% I felt like the book was going nowhere. The plot was dragging through the mud and the characters, while some are well-developed enough, were uninteresting and lacked any sort of compelling nature. It might be a good book to pick for when you just want a mindless read one boring Sunday, but otherwise I wouldn’t expect to become especially enthralled with No Place to Fall.
When we meet our main character, Amber, she seems like this party girl who makes a hobby out of hooking up and getting high with strangers from all over the world who stop by her town. She keeps track of her nightly… adventures.. on a map. But then we learn that she’s supposedly this good girl from an uber religious family, going to church every week, singing in the choir, with big dreams she considers pointless because she can’t possibly leave her mother alone. Overall, she’s a mixed bag that I was never able to give any kind of concrete personality to. I fared better with the secondary characters who were at least distinguishable. I can’t say I especially liked any of them, however. They were very stereotypical and brought in a bunch of unnecessary drama that became annoying rather than thrilling.
The plot was also all over the place. The whole ordeal about Amber needing to buy this guitar was so pointless, yet it’s the only thing that really happens in the book as far as excitement – if you want to call it that. I mean I get it, it was meant to be this big life-changer for Seth and his broken past or whatever, but the whole thing felt… incredibly predictable. Added in for drama, no doubt. In addition to the drug dealings, stealing, cheating (x3!), “tragic” parental figures, the new kid in town, the unexpected romantic interest, the gay best friend… Honestly, this could have been a really potent story about finding hope when the cards are stacked against you, instead it just all felt like clutter. It lacked the tension and emotional investment needed to make for a moving read. We also kept coming back to this singing storyline – we couldn’t forget for one second how amazing of a singer Amber was, with lyrics scattered throughout the book and people constantly making her sing because she’s so darn good became repetitive and tiresome.
There isn’t much more I can say about this one, really. When you’re over the halfway mark in a book and you’re still waiting for it to start that’s a very bad sign. Maybe this is a hit-or-miss kind of read – those who enjoy slow moving contemporaries should still give it a try – it definitely wasn’t a hit for me.
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