On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s Law of Motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
Falling Into Place is a wonderfully written tale of the stresses of high school and how appearances can sometimes be deceiving. Liz is one of the popular girls, and outwardly that makes her one of the mean girls. Being different is frowned upon, so she joined in, refused to ever be different, and one day she became the leader of the pack. But underneath the surface she is wracked with guilt at the lives she has ruined. How she wishes she could go back and be the girl who promised to speak out in the face of bullying. She can’t turn back time, but she can make sure she doesn’t do it again.
It’s a moving character study of a broken teenage girl. Apart from the initial car crash and the will-she-won’t-she tension of her recovery, it could be a slow book, with not a lot happening but it’s so rewarding. In flashbacks, we see how her life unravelled, all her regrets.
She did not realize the equal and opposite reaction was this: every terrible, horrible, bitchy thing Liz had ever done had bounced back to her.
The narrator keeps coming back to Newton’s Laws of Motion. It’s not just about her crash but about her life. She didn’t want to be an object staying still, but the force of her motion was destructive. The things she did caused consequences she couldn’t live with. The narrator is omniscient but for the most part, it’s third person, occasionally returning to the first. It took we a while to work out who this narrator was, but I don’t think it matters.
In the earlier chapters, Liz is pretty unlikable. She’s reckless and appears self-centred and bitchy. If you tend to give up on books early, you might feel you don’t want to read about this horrible person. But the magic of this book is how you soon start to feel for her. My heart broke for her as she struggles to stay above the surface, how matter of fact she is about her planned suicide. She knows she will cause hurt but she plans it out in a way she thinks will cause the least damage. On the anniversary of her dad’s death so her mother only needs one sad day a year and making it seem like an accident. Because no one needs the guilt of not noticing she was fading. She would make sure no one who knew her would be the one to find the body.
She failed to notice that the wetness on Liz’s face wasn’t rain. She didn’t realize that Liz was drowning, or that Liz was crying because she knew that she could never outrun the things she had done.
Yet Liam notices. A boy on the outskirts of school society, he has always noticed Liz. He is the one who finds her. Whilst Liz has been cruel to him, he survived, in fact in some ways it changed him for the better. He can be himself. Throughout the pages, we see there could be a life for Liz where she doesn’t have to push everyone away and act like is expected of her. We see her friends, all struggling with their own problems, desperate for her acceptance, when so easily they could all just be themselves.
This is something most of us grow up to learn is possible. I’m sure we all remember when life was different. How being different was the worst possible thing you could do.
Melody was different, different was weird, weird was bad. It was simple. Maybe they didn’t actively participate in the undoing of Melody Blair, but it was their silence, their willingness to look away, that lent Mackenzie her power.
Falling Into Place is being published in the UK through HarperCollins 360 and will be available in paperback on the 9th October 2014. The ebook edition is available now. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Shelve next to: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.