Falling into Place – book review

Falling into Place

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.

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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! 🙂

It’s Kind of a Funny Story – book review

It's Kind of a Funny Story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a moving and honest book, written by Ned Vizzini.

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life, which means getting into the right high school and then into the right job. But when Craig achieves getting into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and has difficulty sleeping, and then one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode lands him in a mental hospital, where his new neighbours include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety and depression.

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I’m a massive fan of the movie adaptation of It’s Kind of a Funny Story and now I can say that I’m a massive fan of the novel as well. I think I had known about this book for a while and I’ve wanted to read it for about a year, so I can’t believe I only picked it up just recently. I was going to wait until I had read the book before watching the movie, but I was in the DVD store and saw the DVD and I just couldn’t help myself. The novel had always sounded so interesting and so I bought the DVD and I think I watched it six times in the space of two days. That’s how much I loved it. And now I can say the same for the novel too.

Of course, books and their movie adaptations are bound to be different. For me, it’s strange watching a movie before I read the book. In every other case, I’m pretty sure I’ve made sure I always read the book before watching the movie, if I think it’s a book I would like to read. So to read a book and already have a clear image of the characters and the setting in my mind was actually quite a bit helpful. I already knew the characters by name and the general plot, so I feel like I got into this book extremely easily. It felt like I was rereading one of my favourite novels. And I know that next time I read this book, I’ll be doing just that.

My favourite thing about this novel was the important messages it brought to light. It talked about life and happiness and trying to make the most of the situation you’re in and if you don’t like where you are, you can change that. In that way, this book really reminded me of The Pause, which I also loved. The book was about depression without being depressing, which was a really great thing. Books about depression don’t always have to be sad, and I really learnt that in this book. It was filled with wit and inspirational messaged and it is ultimately about how that everything will turn out okay in the end if you do things that make you happy and simply live. 

Here’s the thing about mental illnesses – they aren’t pretty, but having a mental illness or mental disorder doesn’t make you ugly. These illnesses are often debilitating and they cause harm to both the person with the disorder and the people around them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to live with your own mind and possibly eventually overcome your problems. I’m not saying that mental illnesses are a phase and that depression will end if you just ‘think positively’, but I genuinely think that surrounding yourself with things and people that make you happy will lead to a happier life. That’s what this book is all about. It’s about recognising the bad things in your life and the things that are keeping you from reaching your full potential and telling someone about how these things are making you feel and working towards achieving your full potential and making the most out of life. Everyone has their difficulties and problems in life, and if this book taught me one thing, it’s that you don’t have to face your demons alone.

Another issue that was faced in this book was how much pressure there is on children and teenagers to succeed, and how that is then often carried on into adulthood. Craig is under immense pressure and stress at his prestigious school and that leads him to feeling the way he does. That really made me think about all the pressure that is placed on people, especially teenagers, to do well at school and get a high paying job in order to live a meaningful life. However, that sort of a life isn’t for everyone and people have to understand that everyone has their own interests and pushing people into the types of things that they don’t enjoy is a real problem, as Craig comes to realise.

I really connected to Craig, like I did when I watched the movie. Like Craig, I have immense pressure and stress in my life to do well and achieve well in school because it will influence my life. I sometimes feel the same way as Craig does, not to that extent, but I can definitely relate to what he feels and the things he’s going through. Another thing I loved about Craig was how he had his own language for things. For example, ‘tentacles’ were the things holding him back from his real goals and ‘cycling’ is when his brain won’t turn off. Craig was a really interesting character and while I did think that he was being a bit of a player at times with all the different girls, he felt real and complicated and alive.

All of the other characters were also really interesting to get to know. I loved getting to know everyone from Smitty to Nia and found that they were all unique and all equally intriguing. I think the fact that Ned Vizzini himself has spent time in a mental hospital really helped when writing this book, because everything about this novel felt authentic and truthful. I loved every single detail of this book and I read it all in one sitting.

I found that this book was actually quite different to the movie. For example, I didn’t get to know Bobby as well as I did in the movie, however I did learn a lot more about Craig and his friends and his past. Ultimately, I can’t really say whether I liked the book or the movie more because I think that both are brilliant and I know I’ll definitely be watching and reading It’s Kind of a Funny Story again soon.

Overall, It’s Kind of a Funny Story is an intriguing, honest and even inspirational novel about depression without being entirely sad. I absolutely loved t’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini a score of 9.5 out of 10. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who enjoys reading contemporaries that deal with major issues in a positive and honest way. What are you thoughts on this book? Are you considering reading it, and if you’ve already read this book, what did you think of it? Has anyone seen the movie adaptation? Let’s discuss!

The Program – book review

The Program

Captivating, spell-binding and beautifully written… The Program is the first book in its series, written by Suzanne Young.

It’s the future. Teen suicide is an epidemic. The only solution is The Program.

Sloane must keep her feelings hidden. After her brother committed suicide, Sloane has been desperately trying to never let her true feelings show. After all, just one outburst could land her in The Program – the only proven cause of treatment for teenagers with depression. But there’s something wrong with the teenagers who return from The Program. Their depression is gone, yet so are their memories. The Program means to remove the “infected” memories, but how do you know who you are when memories from your past is stolen from you? All Sloane has to do is make it to her eighteenth birthday; when The Program can’t take her against her will. Then she will be safe.

But Sloane is under constant surveillance both at home and at school. The only time she can be herself is when she’s with James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of the treatment and Sloane knows their love can withstand anything. But they are getting weaker. The depression is setting in. It’s harder to bury their feelings. They both know one thing – The Program is coming for them.Read More »