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I Belong

Review: Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

Falling Into PlaceTitleFalling Into Place

Author: Amy Zhang

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: September 9, 2014

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062295047 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062295040 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Kaitlin


One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz’s friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.

“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.

Quick & DirtyFalling Into Place was a extremely heart-wrenching novel about forgiveness, friendship, and looking beyond people’s images.

Opening Sentence: First law.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

Liz Emerson is popular. She’s the top of the social pyramid in her small town of Meridan. She’s loved and looked up to by some, hated by others. She has made some people’s lives, but more often she has broke them. And from the outside she seems fine. She goes to parties, she gets decent grades, she has a boyfriend. So when Liz Emerson crashes into a tree and is teetering on the brink of death, no one suspects she was trying to commit suicide. This is a deeply emotional story of a girl losing her grip on living and how she went from a happy, innocent child to this broken teen.

Last year, I read The Fault in Our Stars. I really didn’t think that a novel could get any more depressing. Well, bingo — I found one with two times the sadness factor. Usually when I’m reviewing a book I leave notes in them for possible “memorable scenes” for the reviews. This book, I must have highlighted 10, 20 scenes on my nook that really impacted me, because wisdom filled passages were everywhere in this story. I couldn’t keep from being drawn in by the novel. I loved the writing style — simple, but packing plenty of meaning into each carefully chosen word. It wasn’t a typical contemporary, without a romance. There was a love interest but you saw very little of the main character and him together and never surely find out if they end up together or not.

The chapters in this story were in three forms. One of them was after Liz Emerson got into the car crash. Another was scenes from Liz’s past, her recent past and childhood. And finally, there were chapters from some mysterious point of view that I couldn’t figure out. I didn’t know who it was!! I couldn’t catch a hint!! I kept thinking it might be her father, who died when Liz was small when he fell off a roof, but nope. I was horribly wrong. It took until the very last chapter for me to finally realize and there was a big “oh…” moment in which I cursed by inability to see the clues unfold. Sad to say, I’m not Sherlock. Anyway, these mixed point of views were very helpful in giving us a full view of how Liz’s story unfolded and I liked being able to see the process of how she became so hurt inside to commit suicide.

Some people on Goodreads say that they didn’t like the main character, Liz. It’s true. She did some horrible things. But I think that being on the journey with her, it was hard for me to be mad, after watching her life unfold. I felt connected with her, and I cried with her and smiled with her. I understood her feelings, though our lives are very different, and I was so upset with the sheer amount of pain in her life. She felt responsible for so many things starting with a particular incident. In many ways, she was responsible, creating ripples that ended in a splash. Her friends also had trouble in their lives. One, Kennie, had an abortion and the emotional horror of that was exhausting and still plagued her. The other, Julia, is addicted to drugs. She can’t admit to herself, she tries to block it out, but nevertheless it stays.

This book was such a journey. Your emotions are caught on a rocky path and stay there the whole book, swaying from happiness to sadness to feeling as depressed as Liz. And it all leads up to the inevitable end: will Lis survive? Will Liam get his girl? I loved all the characters in this book no matter what horrible deeds they did. I also adored the way Newton’s laws were worked into the story, how they wove in and out drawing the pages together. Every part of this book was full of feeling and meaning, never a dull moment. Let me make this clear. Someone looking for a light, fluffy contemporary with a romance is not looking for this book. It’s deep, thought-provoking, but not fluffy in the slightest. To people looking for cute, read Anna and the French Kiss, but not this book. If you open this up be prepared to be crying most of the novel!!

Notable Scene:

They had acceleration, she, Kennie, and Julia. They had mass. They goaded and mocked and multiplied each other, so they had force. They were the catalysts, the fingers that tipped the first domino. They started things that grew into other things that were much greater than themselves.

A touch, a nudge in the wrong direction, and everyone fell down.


FTC Advisory: Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Falling Into Place. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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