September 7, 2014

Title: Falling into Place

Author: Amy Zhang ♥ @amyzwrites

Expected Publication:
September 9, 2014

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Pages: 304

Genre: Young Adult ♥ Contemporary

Source: Edelweiss

Summary from Goodreads: 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.

Average Goodreads Rating (as of 09/07/2014): 3.81

  • Christina thought this was different, but a little lacking. It goes on her 3rd shelf. To find out why…

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Quick Thoughts and Rating:
3 stars! This would have been a good debut for any author, but, admittedly, I’m slightly more impressed that it came from a high school student. Falling into Place is definitely one of those soul-searching, thought-provoking novels, but I think the fact that it was compared to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay certainly sets people’s expectations a little too high, and I think that’s one of the main reasons I struggled with this novel as much as I did.

The Lowdown: Liz Emerson is on the top tier of the school, and while most people enjoy the view from above, all Liz ever sees lately are the lives that she’s destroyed. Even surrounded and adored by people and friends, Liz is alone and tired of being lonely. So, she drinks and hooks up and continues to tear people down because she can’t stop the things she’s already set in motion. Until she decides she can by simply not existing anymore.

Falling into Place is an emotional journey of one girl’s attempted suicide-made-to-look-like-an-accident and the effects it has on the people around her. Narrated by an interesting character and following Liz’s two best friends and certain people she’s hurt, this novel is broken up into moments from before and after the wreck. As we travel this journey with these characters, we get an in-depth view of what really drove Liz over the edge.

Liz Emerson got drunk too easily, an on just about anything: alcohol, power, expectations. She was never careful with her life or anyone else’s, and in her disregard was a coldness, a deep cruelty, a willingness to destroy anyone, everyone.
~quote taken from an eARC of Falling into Place at 69%

My Thoughts: I’m really struggling with my rating and review for this novel simply because I want to hold this author to the same standards as other adult authors, but I’m finding it difficult. Falling into Place is a good novel and you can see that Zhang’s talent is apparent, but I also feel like the feelings and connection that I was missing from the characters will come with her writing as she matures and finds her voice. With that being said, I really do think that there was more telling than showing in this novel. And while I thought the choice in narration and delivery style of the story were interesting, it honestly made it significantly more difficult for me to connect with any of the characters, especially Liz. Furthermore, Liz made enjoying this whole book even more of a challenge. She wasn’t a likable character, in general, but her unwillingness to change her actions and behavior, to see suicide as her only solution, actually made me loathe her a little. While I like complex “bad” characters, I need to see some redeeming qualities in them for me to want to root for them. Even when all she had to say was a simple “I’m sorry” she chose to walk away and end her life.  So while a majority of her story focused on other people willing her to live, to stay alive, I can’t say that I really cared what the outcome in that situation came to be. (I know, heartless. But, I would hope that if this were real life, I’d be a better person and will her to live, too.)

I will say that I think the author’s age does give her an advantage over her older peers. Her dialogue, character situations, and insight felt very spot on and believable, likely because, as adults, I think we all tend to wear some form of tinted glasses when thinking back on that age while Zhang is currently still there.

Rec It? Sure. It definitely makes a person deliberate how their actions directly or indirectly influence another person. I just wish I’d felt a little more for the main character and wish she’d had a chance to show at the end  a willingness to take advantage of any second chance she’d been given aside from a minor glimpse. I don’t think that brief moment atoned for an entire book of shortcomings, in my opinion.

A very special thanks to Greenwillow Books and Edelweiss for providing an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

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