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? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
This novel broke my heart into millions and millions of pieces. It put it back together in parts, but others are probably irreparable now. Which, I guess, constitutes a great novel. A novel that can shatter much of who you are as both a reader and a person. A novel that literally makes you detach pieces of yourself when reading it. That’s what Amy Zhang’s beautiful debut has done for me. But before I continue, on a more serious note, can I just say HOLY MOLY LOOK AT THE BEAUTIFUL COVER. I mean, you guys can’t tell from the digital screen, but OHMYGOSH IT’S EVEN PRETTIER IN PERSON. This is, by far, my favorite cover of 2014 so far. I love everything about it. The falling car. The hand. ALL OF IT.
But back to the novel (SO PRETTY). Falling into Place was probably my most anticipated novel of 2014. Which is a pretty great bargain for a debut and for a novel that came out within the same year John Corey Whaley’s did. John Corey Whaley’s books pretty much own my heart, if you really must know. That’s IMPRESSIVE. Really. But once you hear that there is a novel written from the perspective of a childhood imaginary friend, HOW COULD YOU NOT? I mean, how could you not just automatically gasp: “I want this. I want this now.” That’s what happened to me back in February, so now, finally getting a chance to read it, let me tell you, I am not in the least bit disappointed. This was worth the wait. I mean, I still wish I got an ARC or something… but that’s not the point, obviously. The point is, I read the novel. I cried. Quite a bit. And had my heart shattered. And now I’m here, writing to you about it.
It’s been a week since I’ve read the novel, but a girl has got to recover. I think I’m still recovering really. And it’s not the fact that something big and surprising happened. It’s nothing like that. It’s just so very emotional. And I don’t think there’s one plot twist that can come close to the experience of having a great emotional reaction to a book. I really don’t. Amy Zhang’s writing is full of poetry. The words are just as beautiful as they are shattering. Much like Liz Emerson’s world. It’s heartbreaking and hopeful. Which is something I’ve probably said a million times throughout my reviews but I seriously mean it this time! How else could you explain a novel like this? Liz Emerson is so freaking heartbreaking.
Outside of our main character, though, I loved the other perspectives. Especially Liam. I LOVED Liam. I don’t know where the heck he came from. I did not exactly expect him. But man, did I love him. I also loved Julia and Kenny. I loved reading about these broken characters, constantly trying to piece themselves together through the most desperate measures. I have a thing for broken characters. I do. I mean, shouldn’t we all, as readers? Yes, it’s great to read about the perfect heartthrob, but man, its the characters who are broken and desperate and so torn apart that leave marks on you. It’s those characters you might not be able to stand (Liz) whom you tend to find the most sympathy for. So if you simply don’t like this novel just because Liz Emerson is unlikable, well, you really need another reason. There are unlikable characters everywhere, in our lives, in our favorite movies (damn you Henry Hill), but it doesn’t make those characters any less interesting or realistic. Rather, it makes us redefine our sympathies for people. Which is crazy, I know. But I swear it does.
I love Liz Emerson. There, I said it. Was she a good person? No. Was she a badass? Nope. But did I love her? Golly, I did. I just wanted to hug her. Because there are Liz Emersons out there in the world, and what I learned from Zhang’s novel is that sometimes, they are just as broken as everyone else. And that may be why I love books. I love the fact that I’m allowed to meet other people in other worlds. People who can change my perspective on how I care for people and why I care for people the way I do. Basically, what I’m saying in this super cheesy review is that Liz Emerson’s story isn’t unique anymore. Suicide has become obvious in our society, but how many imaginary friends do we have to tell those stories for us? Maybe, it’s time for real friends to speak out. Falling into Place might help you come up with some great words.