Falling into Place is a haunting and heart-wrenching novel, written by Amy Zhang.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Mass, acceleration, force and momentum are all things Liz didn’t understand in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now.
How do we impact on another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to love someone and be a friend or a daughter or a mother? If life truly more than cause and effect? Told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of a high school’s most popular junior girl.
Falling into Place was one of those books that I’d been wanting to read for ages and whenever I wanted to read it, it always felt like other books popped up of nowhere and required me to read them. I think I borrowed this book from the library four times before I got around to reading it, and each time I returned the book to the library, I was disappointed. The first three times because I didn’t get to read it, and the fourth time because I didn’t want to give it up! I think my solution will be to buy my own copy of this book. I mean, look at that cover. I’m just dying to have that on my shelf. But I think the real solution to my problems is to just buy all of my books. That way, I feel obliged to read them soon after I buy them because I spent all my pay on them. Who cares if I become even more broke than I already am. I can always build a book-fort to live in. Except my books might get wet from the rain… Oh, the eternal struggle!
So I think the main thing that stood out to me about this book was the writing style. This book is told by alternating from past and present, and the narrator was someone unknown until the very end. At first, this was a little confusing. I didn’t know who was telling the story and I got a little lost in the alternating chapters which sometimes focussed on other characters. However, I soon became accustomed to this and I ended up really enjoying it. I didn’t think the non-linear aspect to work so well for the story, but it really did. I also think Amy Zhang’s writing style was what made this book so memorable for me. Her writing is also very honest and is filled with emotion. I spend the last third of this book just sobbing my eyes out. In a good way, though. When I sob my eyes out in books, it’s always in a good way.
Another thing I really loved about this book was how it portrayed depression. It showed quite clearly that depression isn’t just feeling sad and that it’s a complex disease that affects people’s thoughts and actions. This novel is also extremely thought-provoking. It asks questions like, how much do our actions influence others and how much do we affect other people’s lives? That tied into why Liz was so depressed because finally she had realised that all of her actions, despite how little they seemed to her in the past, all caught up with her in the end. She realised all the havoc she had wrought upon everyone she had ever said something nasty to or did something horrible to. In a way, this also highlights the effect bullying has on people. You may think that your words are harmless or that it was just a joke, but words can hurt just as much as actions and we all need to remember that.
From reading a few people’s reviews on this book, I’ve seen that there has been a little bit of controversy surrounding the characters. A few people dropped their star rating because they didn’t like certain characters, particularly Liz. In some ways, I agree with them. Liz was a very unlikable character in the beginning. All she came across as was spoilt and rude and downright mean. But no one is perfect. We all have a flaws and things that other people wish they could change about us. The difference is that Liz recognised her flaws and tried to right her wrongs, though probably in the worst possible way. I liked how Liz was so complicated because this was so realistic and showed that people suffer with so many issues in real life, too. These characters went through problems such as mental illness, drug abuse, pregnancy and family issues, plus a multitude of others. This felt very, very real and I couldn’t be more thankful that this book painted it’s characters in a realistic light.
As well as learning about Liz’s life, I also really enjoyed meeting all of her friends and even some of the people she bullied. Each person had their own unique stories to tell and all of them were dealing with their own problems. It could be said that everyone was dealing with such a massive problem and that this made the book either too depressing or not realistic, but I disagree. I liked how everyone had their own problems because I feel like that reflects life. Everyone has their own problems, no matter how big or small you might perceive them to be. Everyone is struggling in their own ways, and this book really highlighted that fact. While Falling into Place is fundamentally a book about a deeply depressed and lonely person, the secondary characters are very important to the novel as well, such as Julia and Kennie. Both of those people are a big part of who Liz is and what her future becomes.
I definitely didn’t expect Falling into Place to be something quite like this, but I’m happily surprised. This book is beautifully-written and eloquent and the ending was perfect and heart-wrenching both at the same time. If you liked If I Stay or Before I Fall, I think you should give this one a try! I’d give Falling into Place by Amy Zhang a score of 9 out of 10. Have you read this book? Were you able to connect with Liz? Have you read books with similar themes? Let me know down below! 🙂