Falling into Place – Review

Liz Emerson held so much darkness within her that closing her eyes didn’t make much of a difference at all…

Every line in this book is like poetry. Seriously.

This entire experience of reading Falling into Place by Amy Zhang has been breathtaking: Non-stop goosebumps breaking out across my arms and the back of my neck as I flip through pages; nearly crying on the bus because oh my gosh. This book is not made up of plot, or of characters, or of setting; it’s made of pure, raw emotion.


*Note: I received this book as a giveaway prize (yay!) from HCC Frenzy (HarperCollins), but it did not influence my rating because seriously, this book was amazing already.

 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?

This book has a bit of mystery. The description notes that there’s “an unexpected and surprising narrator”, and I really didn’t take much notice of this until I started reading and the pure, blinding desire to know who the narrator is consumed me. Seriously. I went back and forth trying to guess: Aha! It’s XYZ! Oh wait, but XYZ is referred to in the third person and the narrator uses first person, darn… Oh! Oh! I know! It’s ABC- no, no, that’s wrong too. Hm. Maybe it’s is XYZ but argh! REVEAL YOURSELF, NARRATOR! I won’t tell you who the narrator is – that’s for you to find out yourself!

Falling into Place rocks back and forth between the past and the present, happiness and devastation, and it does so skillfully. The motivations for what’s happening in the “now” becomes painfully clear as we read through the “then”. And, as it turns out, we’re not justing learning about them then, we’re truly learning about them now: about all the little moments and people that collaborated to make them into the exact person they are right now, right on this page. I especially loved the “snapshots” that give a look into the past in a quick paragraph: a snapshot. Both the flashbacks and the snapshots give this book a beautiful depth.

She forgot, sometimes, that she could make her own choices. 

Liz really isn’t a nice person for the most part, but as we get to peek more and more into her childhood I could see how she became that why and why she stays  that way. Her 7-day trial especially reveals this. Liam is a sweet boy with a helpless crush, and I see a lot of myself in him. We don’t get to see how things turn out for him, but I hope he gets a happy ending. I like Liam, and I feel for Liz. Also, Julia. I seriously love her. Like seriously. Especially at the end. They’re all flawed – Liz and Kennie and Julia – but I really loved Julia of the three.

And it was then that [Liam] began to fall in love with [Liz] for the second time, for the same reason that he had picked up his flute again; because he believed in broken things. 

This book is about more than suicide. It’s about bullying and depression and neglect, and drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, and all those things that threaten to tear us down as teenagers. Falling into Place is also not just about Liz. It’s about all the people in a person’s life – directly and peripherally – and how they affect the decisions you make, and how they deal with the aftermath of those decisions.

[Liz’s classmates are] crying for themselves, for fear of death, for the loss of faith in their own invincibility, because if Liz Emerson is mortal, they all are. 

Probably the only thing I wished this book had was more of an ending. We get a brief look at how Liz’s situation turns out, but we don’t get to see how things end for her Julia, Kennie, or Liam. This was something I really wanted to see in this book.

Overall though, the ending was beautiful. I’m giving this one a perfect rating because it far surpassed my expectations. It made me emotional in a way a book hasn’t done in a long time and I’m so so content with this book. To know that a book of such beautiful writing and depth was written by a high schooler really makes me excited about the future emerging writers. This book is one that everyone needs to read.

We race the world, and as fast as it rotates, as fast as it revolves, we are faster. 


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