Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling into Place 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.

My Review:

Falling into Place was an emotional read told from a unique perspective unlike any that I've ever read.  It had a mysterious narrator whose identity is revealed at the end, but before that, the narration reads as if it is told by an omniscient third person narrator.  We get to read the perspectives of Liz, Julia, Kennie, Liam, and Liz's mom, and possibly more that I'm missing, though I think that's about it.


Liz had not been a very nice girl in her life.  She was one of the "mean girls" at school, and she had been a bully.  There had been times when she had gone out of her way to plot against people and make them miserable.  There were also many times when she had the power to step in and say something that would have stopped others from bullying someone, and she chose not to step in.  She just let the bullying go on as she was a spectator to it.

Some of Julia's scenes were especially heartbreaking.  She has an interesting story because Liz led bullying against her when she first moved to the school, and then she and Liz ended up becoming best friends.  The flashbacks showed that Liz and Julia really did have a true friendship that wasn't just superficial.  The scenes where she was sitting by Liz's bed in the hospital crying were sad to read.  I was glad that Julia was probably going to get help from her drug addiction, since she was struggling with that throughout the book.

Kennie's story of the baby and the abortion is sad as well.  It was obvious that she didn't want to give up the baby and that she only gave it up because she felt that they had to.  The scene where she was imagining a future with the baby that she was never going to give birth to was sad.

Liam was such a sweet boy, and so undeserving of what Liz and her friends did to him.  I think of all the things Liz did, what she did to Liam was one of the worst.  I loved how he was there for Liz and loved him, even though she was broken and didn't deserve him.  He cared about her despite that, and it showed that maybe she could have a chance at redemption.  Also, the part when he found Kennie crying and was nice to her, despite what she had done to him, was so wonderful.

It's unusual to get the perspective of a parent in a YA book (in fact, I don't think I've ever read one with it before), but we do get Liz's mom's perspective in this book.  You get to see her face the thought of possibly losing her daughter, and see how much that thought breaks her heart.  Her parts were hard to read, since it must be awful for a parent to go through an experience like that.  One of her parts had her thinking about Liz's name and saying to Liz, "Don't make me write it on a tombstone."  That line was so sad to read and think about. 

If you like YA contemporary, read this book.


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