Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
Published September 9th, 2014 by Greenwillow Books
Hardcover; 304 pages
Genre: Young Adult
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 3.90
My rating: ★★★★
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? [Via Goodreads]
Liz Emerson has not been a good person most of her young life. She’s one of those girls–you know the ones–unnecessarily cruel to others to secure her status in the social hierarchy of high school. However, she is aware she hasn’t been very nice and she wants to change. It bothers her what she’s been able to get away with. She’s let her friends down. She’s let herself down. And, her parents aren’t emotionally or physically available to her for guidance. She is, for all intents and purposes, alone.
It is this feeling that causes her to plan her suicide. She plans it carefully in order to construct it in such a way that it appears to have been an accident. She gives herself one last week to see if she can change–if her life can be something different than what it has become. Then, she makes her choice.
I will be honest in saying that the main character, Liz Emerson, is not s likable character. For much of the story she is someone most of us (read: me) avoided at all costs in high school. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good story. If anything, I really enjoyed the perspective that what goes on inside the “popular crowd” isn’t so different from what happens in “outsiders” lives. We all struggle. What makes us who we are is how we respond to our struggles. Liz Emerson chose to walk over others in order to make herself feel better. That feeling is only temporary, though, so she turns to the casual use of drugs and alcohol when available.
This novel is the account of Liz’s actions as well as the reactions to her choices by her friends and family members. I really enjoyed the depth of the supporting characters. It was wonderful to get to know everyone so intimately and it didn’t take away from the story at all. In fact, I think it may have added to it.
Overall, this is a powerful and moving story. I would recommend this to those that enjoy Young Adult fiction.
This is Amy Zhang’s first novel.