Published by HarperCollins Australia on September 9, 2014
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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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.
Falling into Place is like the readable version of Tease. I couldn’t get through Tease, purely because it was from the perspective of a bully who drove someone to suicide. In this book, we get different perspectives both from the bully herself, her friends, her boyfriend and guy who is crushing on her. While there were many cliches, what made this book stand out was the beautiful prose and the non-linear timeline.
Liz Emerson got drunk too easily, and 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.
Liz Emerson is a popular, beautiful and damaged girl who has had a neglected childhood; with a mum who is more indulgent in herself and a father who died when she was young. She hides her pain away in her teenage years by bullying others and making them feel terrible about themselves. She’s an unlikable protagonist who does horrible things to people at her school, but in her times of alcoholism, taking drugs, bulimia and depression, you know there is something terribly wrong with her.I liked reading the story from someone who is the villain, and although she was hard to connect to, you ended up sympathising with her.
The mystery of why Liz Emerson crashed her car and what drove her into suicide is told through varying chapters. It switches between different time periods before the crash with what drove Liz to attempt suicide, to snapshots of Liz’s childhood, and different characters’ perspectives, and varying the past and the present. I found this to be engaging and experiential, although towards the end I got a bit frustrated about why we were alternating minutes before the crash. The story is told from an unidentified narrator, which isn’t revealed until the end.
Eventually, she could no longer find comfort in anything. By the end, she was just another girl stuffed full of forgotten dreams, until she crashed her car and she wasn’t even that.
Falling into Place offers a holistic view of such a tragedy occuring, with Liz’s school, classmates, teachers, parents, students and her friends reacting in a different way. Some will hope she pulls through okay, and others will already write her off. I found this portrayal to be realistic, especially because Liz was a terrible person and people who never really cared about her would pretend that it was the worst thing ever to have happened.
What I didn’t like about the story was the mean, unlikable characters within the story. The book is filled with them, and the popular kids being the least likable ones was cliche. Her friends were pretty self obsessed and each pre-occupied with their own problems, and the only redeeming character was the guy who had been bullied by Liz called Liam, who had a change of heart. He ended being slightly creepy and stalkerish with his unrequited love though.
Throughout the book, the author also relates what is happening to Liz back to physics, and to be honest this fell short of delivery. Most of the references went over my head (fair enough, I never studied physics) but removing these references would have made zero impact to the story as a whole.
Falling into Place is a beautiful, lyrical exploration into darker teenage issues such as bullying, depression, drug and alcoholism and bulimia. It is an emotional read filled with characters you won’t like, but you will somehow manage to fell sorry for. The mystery, creativity and non-linear aspect of the book will keep you reading – but outside of the beautiful writing, this book explored enough cliches to not be memorable.
Rating: 4 out of 5
I received a review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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