Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

falling into placeI don’t know if there are enough feels to describe this book. It was very clearly trying to destroy me, and it succeeded. By the end I was literally yelling and gesticulating, much to the surprise and distress of my poor husband (who fully supports my crazy when it comes to books I’m reading).

First off, I have to say, this is just a brilliant storytelling feat that Amy Zhang has pulled off. She’s taken “the mean girl” and made her someone you’re actively rooting for, not against, and that is no easy task. Liz Emerson is not a good person. She’s actually quite a destructive one – she hurts people she hates, people who annoy her, people who stand in her way, and even the people she loves. But the thing is, Liz takes no real pleasure in this. In fact, she’s downright contrite, and it’s this contrition that leads her to believe she doesn’t deserve to exist in a world full of people whom are better than she. Lacking the ability to put aside her pride and ask for the help she so desperately needs, she hatches a suicide plot and crashes her car on an icy road, attempting to make her death look like an accident.

The rest of the story unfolds from that fatal car crash, told from a third party perspective who is just about one of the most riveting narrators I’ve ever read (very much akin to Death narrating The Book Thief). The chapters unfold in snippets – they recount memories from Liz’s childhood, her broken home, and the week and minutes leading up to her suicide attempt, as well as chapters set in the present focusing on those who knew and cared for her the most as they struggle with her accident and its aftermath.

I loved the narrator (I won’t give it away) more than I can even express, and I think this book lends a very unique perspective to the bullying epidemic facing young people every day. Bullying is not just damaging to victims, and Falling into Place does an excellent job addressing the ways in which it affects everyone involved for better and for worse.

And oh the feels – the feels, feels, feels, feels! Seriously, this book just made me want to reach out and shake some of these characters. I wanted to show them the light, to tell them everything would be all right if they would only do this or that or pay just a little tiny bit more attention here or there. It was infuriating, and by the final chapters I was on the edge of my seat. I won’t spoil the ending, but it definitely left me reeling (in the best-feelingest sort of way).

But don’t just take my word for it. Go. Read it. Now.

Rating: 5/5 stars 

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