The Harder I Fall by Jessica Gibson is a New Adult romance with a lot of promise. The protagonist, Becca Langer, is driven to pursue her goals, but she consistently feels guilt for an incident in her past that changed her life, and the life of her brother, forever.
With a father away in jail and a drunk, bitter mother, Becca feels guilty for leaving her younger brother Chad behind as she goes off to college. But Becca has a real talent and a dream to dance in The New York Ballet Company one day, and her brother wants her to follow that dream.
Becca, who is so determined to be a dancer that she rarely has time for anything else, doesn’t bank on making friends with her bubbly roommate – or catching the eye of the incredibly handsome, incredibly sweet Levi Klein. She’s in a new town, surrounded by people who are unaware of her past. Can she let go of some of her guilt and begin to live her life?
I found myself rooting for Becca from the beginning. The circumstances of her upbringing, and the tragedy that marred her childhood, were not her fault at all. As an outsider to the situation, it was easy for me to understand this. I cheered Becca on because I wanted to see her come to that conclusion herself, and for her to get to a place where she learns that she is lovable, and capable of love.
The balance in this novel between happiness and tragedy was a little off, but this may be because of the pacing of it. It’s a relatively short book (215 pages in the Kindle edition), and a LOT happens in the span of the story. Becca, who we learn from the beginning of the story has never had friends and has kept to herself (because of the tragedy of her past), opens up relatively quickly to her new roommate and her love interest, Levi. She reveals so much in a single tearful conversation, that it was hard for me to believe that she never opened up to a friend before.
Just as things get “good,” another tragedy comes out of nowhere to knock Becca off balance. But not to worry – it will be resolved in a matter of pages. And then the cycle begins again. While all of the issues are resolved by the end of the book, I didn’t feel completely satisfied. I felt rushed. I wished that Gibson went into more details about conversations or feelings, rather than Becca’s narration of “then I told her everything” or “I felt this way…”
I had high hopes for the supporting characters in The Harder I Fall, specifically Julian, Sadie’s boyfriend, and Ruth, Levi’s mother. I only wish we had a little more time with them so they could become more than two-dimensional.
Jessica Gibson is going to release another book from Chad’s POV, and I hope she considers slowing down the plot so we as readers can become more invested in it.
Published: February 20, 2014
Received: Purchased Kindle copy