Book Review: Falling Into Place

fallingintoplace-hc-c1Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Series: Standalone

Published by Greenwillow Books on September 9, 2014

Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Love & Romance, Mental Health, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult

Pages: 304

Rating:

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SYNOPSIS:

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.

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RATINGS:

Critical Rating: ★.5

Entertainment Rating: ★.5

Overall Rating: 

Plot: Medium To Fast Paced | Short, Compact Chapters | Incredibly Compelling

Characters: Realistic Flawed | Complex | Definitely Not Likeable But Understandable | Kind Of A Cliche

World Building: Modern World | Realistic High School Life | Day to Day Life

Writing: 3rd Person | Unnamed Narrator | Non Linear | Whimsical | Beautiful | GIVE ME MORE

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*Trigger Warning for Abortion, Bullying, Depression, Drug Use, Eating Disorders, Sexual Assault, Suicide and Teen Pregnancy. If you are sensitive to any of the topics above, PLEASE do not read this book. No book is worth damaging your physical/mental health!* 

MY REVIEW: 

Right off the bat, Falling Into Place starts in the most dramatic, horrifying way possible. We are dropped into the world of Liz Emerson, a so called high school queen bee who is driving her Mercedes off the road in an attempt to end her life. Told in a non linear fashion made up of flashbacks and snapshots, Amy Zhang poignantly interweaves the seriousness of mental illness with the slight sliver of hope peeking through those dark, twisty clouds.

As mentioned above, Liz along with her two best friends, Julia and Kennie are at the top of their high school social pyramid. They are the classic definition of “mean girls” students who do horrible things to people just for the sake of doing horrible things. None of them are likeable to say the least and at the start of the novel, I felt absolutely no sympathy towards Liz. I didn’t want her to commit suicide of course, but I also didn’t care for her as much as I wanted to. But then somewhere along the 30% line, Liz’s character becomes undone. Her secrets are released, her painful background announced, and I couldn’t help but feel incredibly empathetic towards her. She was just a teenage girl struggling through life with the additional baggage of her father’s death, mother’s absence, and depression all adding weight to her already heavy shoulders. She was so morally grey with relatable flaws that I couldn’t help but pray with all my heart that she would be okay.

Now, before I get too in depth with my review, I want to mention the fact that Falling Into Place is told in a 3rd person point of view. We don’t know who the narrator is until the very end, and even then, their identity is still a mystery that the reader is left to unravel by themselves. At first I wasn’t sure how this whole “3rd person mysterious stranger” was going to work out as there hasn’t been many contemporaries with this technical aspect that was in my opinion successful. However, Amy Zhang (who by the way was in high school when she wrote this book :O) captured the story perfectly with her whimsically beautiful writing. The rare 3rd person point of view made the story come alive even more so then it already was and provided such an unique experience that I am sure many readers would enjoy.

The book itself falls on the short side and so do the chapters. What doesn’t fall short is the amount of emotion the book evokes inside of you as you read page by page. The pacing of the book was great, making you all the more nervous as it neared the timeline of Liz’s accident. Though I already knew in my head that the car crash is inevitable, my heart refused to believe it until in unfolded before my eyes. Every couple of chapters, they had a distinct title with the x amount of days before Liz crashed her car. The following pages outlined the perspective from all sorts of different people who had impacted Liz for better or for worse in some shape or form. The most memorable for me was the perspective of Liz’s mom who seemed so distant but really loved Liz with all her heart and Liam, the unexpected classmate who could have changed Liz forever. Each and every character regardless of their role was well developed and realistic making it feel as if they were right beside you as you read on.

The topic of suicide is never an easy one and neither are any of the other issues addressed within Falling Into Place. Apart from Liz’s depression, we mainly focus on Liz’s eating disorder, Julia’s drug addiction and Kennie’s abortion in the past. Even these difficult circumstances are well fleshed out and Zhang manages to somehow connect these rather taboo topics with the reasons why Liz decided to commit suicide. Along those same lines, Liz’s portrayal of depression is so hearwrenchingly real that I had no grain of doubt that she was struggling big time.

The only major problem I had with this book was with the characters. They were a little too cookie cut cliched in my opinion and wouldn’t have stood out amongst all of the other YA contemporaries. We have the mean queen bee, the jerk of a boyfriend, the nerds, and the people that are more than acquaintances but less than friends. To be quite frank, if none of the characters had their dramatic problems, I would have forgotten their names  within a week or even less. That being said, because of the way Zhang portrayed them in the book, they will now always have a piece (no matter how small) of my heart.

All in all, Falling Into Place was a great novel that achieved both ends of being informative about serious topics and keeping the reader interested in the story. The writing was some of the best I’ve ever seen in a debut author and  I am definitely planning on adding Amy Zhang to my must-check-out-authors list!

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Have you read Falling Into Place or are you planning to? What did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading lovelies xoxo,

-Jenna <3-

Find me here!

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Falling Into Place

  1. Reg @ She Latitude says:

    Sounds like a very interesting book, thanks so much for reviewing it! I’ve been seeing this one around the blogosphere but never really read the summary until now, and I wouldn’t have guessed how heavy it is from the cover. Super curious about how the unnamed narrator works in practice – often authors try doing these things and end up coming across as… pretentious, for lack of a better word, but I’m glad to hear that by and large it seems to do well in this story. Great review. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • FictionalNeverland says:

      You’re the most welcome Reg!! I didn’t know about this book at all until I read the synopsis, and needless to say, I was really surprised.

      As for the unnamed narrator, I felt that it was a very interesting touch to the story. Not knowing the identity of the perspective was extremely compelling and creative, making me enjoy the story a lot more. I hope that you can pick it up sooner rather than later, and I will be looking forward to hearing your thoughts 😉

      Like

  2. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    Wow, that book sounds quite compelling, it’s such a difficult topic, and I’m not used to reading this kind of book, but you made it sound really, really good and intriguing. I might pick it up, but I’m not sure my heart will handle so many emotions, especially if it’s written in such a great way. Thank you for this review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • FictionalNeverland says:

      I am so glad you enjoyed the review Marie!! Falling Into Place does cover a lot of difficult topics but they are also ones that really need to be discussed. It definitely isn’t a light read, but well worth your time. Let me know if you decide to give it a try ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

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