Book Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into PlacePublisher: Greenwillow Books

Release Date: September 9, 2014

Genre: Mental health, Contemporary, (kind of) Romance, Frienship

Okay, can we first just talk about how YOUNG Amy Zhang is and how BEAUTIFULLY WRITTEN this book is?! When I was her age, I was slinging coffee at Starbucks, not being a brilliant wordsmith. Wow. Here’s your synopsis from Amazon:

“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 did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The 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.

1. Let’s revisit the writing, shall we?

I would have been impressed with Zhang’s writing had she been a seasoned author. However, I’m doubly impressed because she’s so young. I cannot express how gorgeous the writing is, barring some editorial mess ups. But wow. I can’t say that enough.

2. I didn’t connect with many of the characters.

We are supposed to hate Liz Emerson, the main character. The whole book we’re told, through different points of view, about the awful things Liz has done throughout her short life. I hate Liz. That’s the biggest connection I had to her. The rest of the characters were overwhelmingly meh, other than Liz’s friend, Julia. Julia is a drug addict. From what I can tell, she’s addicted to cocaine. As someone who was also an addict, she was my favorite. I connected with her most of all. She seemed the least stuck up out of the three friends: Liz, Julia, and Kennie. Kennie is really superficial and just like any other high school archetype. I didn’t care for her, either.

3. This is a big look at the mental health of high schoolers.

I have read a ton of books lately about mental health, suicide, and teenagers. This one is about a girl who doesn’t know how to ask for help, even though she tries. She tells her mother she is sick and her mother tells her to take some Tylenol and that she has to get back to a meeting. It is quite sickening, especially when you realize that this is how the situation usually plays out. Even though I hated Liz, she doesn’t deserve to die. Throughout the book, she maintains that everyone is above her and she doesn’t deserve to live. She gives herself a week and can find no redeeming qualities out of life, which was heartbreaking. Maybe books like this will bring more help to those teenagers who are suffering.

4. The points of view occasionally confused me, while also driving me nuts.

There is a mysterious narrator in this book. Mostly, you’re getting a third person omniscient view and you’re reading along then all of a sudden, a sentence starts with, “I…” Wait, WHAT?! It was pretty easy to call, especially if you’re looking for it. You’ll get your answer – if you didn’t find it – in the epilogue, then it all makes sense!

5. There is a tiny bit of romance, and I hate romance, but this was pretty satisfying.

A girl like Liz has to have a boyfriend, right? She totally does…and a lot of other dudes, but her boyfriend is a douchebag. The closest Liz gets to romance is when Liam (UGH I LOVE LIAM, TOO) drives her home from a party next door to his house and she pukes in his car. She realizes too late who deserves her. There really was no romance and it was kind of heartbreaking, but it felt genuine, which I loved!

OVERALL: 4 stars!!! I enjoyed this book way more than I thought I would when I started. The beginning was a little slow, but the more you invest, the more you want to know. This book is about redemption and forgiveness and solid, lasting friendship (which is very difficult to find). I loved the messages here. Bravo! This was written so beautifully and I cannot wait to see what Amy Zhang produces next!

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