Thursday, September 4, 2014

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Summary (on 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.
First, I have to say this: this author is in high school??? I was a little blown away by the awesomeness of this novel. And normally when publishers compare books to other YA masterpieces, I’m super skeptical.  This was compared to If I Stay, Before I Fall, and 13 Reasons Why, and for once, I agree with the publishing company. I would definitely compare it to those three novels. I might even think it’s better than those three novels.
Like Lauren Oliver, Zhang wrote about a girl that is not easy to like. She wrote about a popular mean girl, who did terrible things to other people. But, like with Jay Asher, she also wrote about why this character came to the point in her life where suicide seemed to be her only option. Zhang wrote about Liz’s decline and depression. And the reason why I see it being compared to If I stay is because all the doctors and family member grieving over Liz’s not quite dead yet body, are all under the impression that Liz is strong enough to pull through –that it’s up to her to pull through her unconscious broken state because she wants to live.
I found this book to be remarkably strong and spot-on in regards to bullying and growing up. I had tears at several different moments of this book. I unfortunately found myself relating to many moments of kids being cruel to each other. I think one of the saddest elements to the whole story was that no one saw how deep Liz had fallen. Liz didn’t want anyone to think her suicide was a suicide. She planned it well –planned it to look like an accident. She even planned it to be on the same day that her father died, so her mother would only have one sad, mourning day of the year (instead of 2). And I guess that’s how readers know (before we even get to learn about who Liz is as a person), that the girl means serious business. She plans her suicide in advance.
I loved the whole concept of this book. I kind of loved that the main character wasn’t a good person (who just happened to be depressed). It would have been a totally different story if Liz wasn’t a mean girl. And I guess a part of me always loves the books about the villains and the bad guys. I like learning why people become who they are. I think it’s one of the reasons I love the show, Once Upon a Time. I love learning the back stories for the evil queens (and even Captain Hook). And we certainly learn how Liz becomes who she is, leading up the moment when her car crashes.
I even loved the main character, meanness and all. I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for all the kids she picked on. And I felt so unbelievably sorry for everyone who grows up in a world where teachers and mentors turn a blind eye on what happens in schools, and where girls need to throw up what they eat to be able to work in clothing stores at the mall, and where girls like Liz never get in trouble for the drastic problems they cause.
It was so hard for me to grasp that the author was only in high school, and yet she has such a sad, yet clear understanding of the world and how tragic it can be. I know the writing style isn’t for everyone. It’s told from an unknown, omniscient narrator’s point of view. I kind of loved it this way. I loved getting to see how other characters dealt with their pain and their grief (especially the mom and the two best friends). People have commented on having no clue who it is, but I kind of guessed who the narrator was immediately. Still, this did nothing to make me like the book any less.
All in all this book was a fresh take on depression and teen suicide.  And while it will most definitely keep being compared to other books in its genre, it also clearly is it’s own. I haven’t really read anything that accomplishes what this book does. My eyes were glued to the pages, and I read it in less than a day. I highly recommend it and give it a 10/10.

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