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?
Liz Emerson is a 16-year old Junior at Meridian HS who is also Captain of the girls soccer team, and a popular girl who gets away with whatever she wants to without any consequences. Liz and her friends Julia and Kennie find their way to destroy anyone who might be happy. Heading towards college? Not when Liz and friends are done with you. Someone more popular than you? Let's write on their locker, and watch as their reputation ends up in the toilet. Someone is actually decent, and might like Liz? Let's ruin him by making people believe that he is gay for playing a musical instrument.
But, when it comes to Liz's own life, it is a complete and utter mess. Liz abuses not only people, but alcohol, drugs, her own body, and teachers patience with her abrupt and condescending attitude. Realizing how much of a mess her life really is, and how badly she's hurt others, she decides that the world will be better place without her around. Liz is a hard pill to swallow for most of the story. I honestly thought the world would be a better place without Liz in it. Perhaps if society disciplined these bullies to the fullest extent of the law, and not buried it under piles of paperwork, perhaps then we can get message out that BULLYING is not tolerable at any time, or any place.
Before you bitch and scream at me, I absolutely understand the darkness of depression as I have suffered from it for nearly 30 years. I have even thought about suicide, once, but quickly changed my mind after hearing about how the family is affected by the loss of a loved one. I have never once in my life bullied another person because of my depression. Do I have anger issues. You bet your ass I do. I've also come to learn ways to release that anger before I end up hurting someone, or ending up in jail.
Zhang is expecting readers to feel emotions for a girl who has purposefully destroyed people's reputations, and shows almost no remorse for her actions until her final decision is planned out. Yes, I did feel sorry for Liz in the beginning and in certain parts knowing how she never got over her fathers death. Yes, I did feel sorry for her because her own mother check out, and made work more important than her own daughter. But, I also wanted to sit her down and give her a lesson or two about what being a bully really means, and telling her that there is absolutely nothing good about losing oneself to the point of giving up completely.
Falling into Place is told by a mysterious stranger (which I will not spoil) that I honestly found rather bizarre. The stranger has a unique view into Liz's life, and her choices. The story takes place in the past, present tense with Julia, Liam, and Kennie, and through snapshots of a entirely different and happy Liz before life kicked her around, sucked out her joy, and left her unwilling to fight through the pain any longer.
I am not sure what people are seeing when they compare If I Stay with Falling into Place. I've now read both books, and perhaps I am over thinking trying to find the comparisons. Mia in If I Stay, lost her entire family, and had a choice to make whether she stayed, or passed on with them. Liz isn't Mia. Liz's life was created by her own choices, without anyone stepping in and swaying her to the darkside. Perhaps if Liam was more of a part of Liz's life throughout the story, or before Liz's choice, you might find some parallels. You will also note that Liam is probably the only decent character in the entire novel. When you can forgive someone for all their trespasses against you, you are a much better person than I am.
Falling into Place covers topics like bullying, loneliness, depression, suicide, teen pregnancies, cheating, drug & alcohol addiction by an author who is in school herself. I know kids have access to all sorts of information these days, including in school, so, I don't believe this story will make them turned off. I will say that perhaps I read this story a bit too soon after losing my father. There are rather emotional parts, and I couldn't stop myself from crying. I also didn't much care for the abrupt ending. It felt almost rushed so that the publisher and author could get it to the editor in time for release date.
Author - Amy Zhang Title - Falling into Place Published by Greenwillow Books Releases: September 9, 2014 Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Format: E-Book 304 pages