Author: Amy Zhang
Published: September 9th 2014 (Greenwillow Books)
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Social Issues
Themes: Suicide, Friendship, Death, High School
Rating: Five stars
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? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Purchase: Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository
Cover Thoughts: I adore the cover. I love the mathematical equations in the back, the road combined with the title, the car, and ultimately the hand at the end. It’s very unique and I love how much it describes the book.
First Line: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s Laws of Motion in physics class.
Immediately this book had one of my favorite elements in it, school classes. I love how the physics class plays a part in this story. Liz doesn’t commit suicide because of her physics class, but she thinks about Newton’s Law while in the car to do so.
In the book blurb, it states Falling Into Place will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman and Jay Asher. i have read comparisons about Falling Into Place to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Thirteen Reaons Why by Jay Asher. I can only vouch for one of these comparisons, If I Stay, which is a Young Adult novel I loved. After hearing this book was compared to those other ones, I knew I needed to read this book.
Falling Into Place is a nonlinear novel told primarily by an unknown narrator. We see months before Liz’s accident, minutes before the accident, flashbacks, “snapshots”, her home life, and her friends experiences. The flashbacks were lovely occasionally called “snapshots” which would then relate back to a previous or future chapter. All of this was extremely well done and told the story very well.
The first thing that stood out to me about Falling Into Place is the similarity it does indeed share with If I Stay — two girls being victims of a car crash, one self induced, the other accidental, as well as both dealing with life or death situations and the non-linear format they both have.
Falling Into Place focuses on Liz Emerson’s life before the car crash, what led up to it, her friends lives, and what ultimately caused her to do it. The nonlinear format really helped the story I thought because we see Liz as a child, then see her throughout the book in high school and how she changed. It was very easy to get into Falling Into Place and be lost in Liz Emerson’s world.
Falling Into Place is an emotional read, the characters felt so real and I felt bad for each of their situations. I really enjoyed reading about Liz’s friendship with Kennie and Julia. While reading this, it was clear that their friendship was real and they really were concerned with Liz. I found their backstories and relationship with Liz to be extremely well done. We see flashbacks of Kennie and Julia’s main plots, aside from Liz’s attempted suicide and I loved both of them. Kennie is the girl who isn’t quite so smart, makes some bad decisions, but she’s a very sweet character affected by Liz’s accident. I was heartbroken to read about her plot and actually had to set Falling Into Place aside at that point having read a similar situation in another novel. I found Julia and Kennie’s plots believable and heartbreaking.
Julia is a girl who Liz immediately disliked but became friends with her. I loved reading about this because I think it’s believable for people to not like each other right away and then begin to. Julia’s on the dance team and is at a meet when Liz’s accident happens. Later when Julia finds out, she’s instantly broken hearted and desperate to go see Liz. At this point in Falling Into Place, I really loved Julia’s character. We learn later that she and Liz had a fight before Liz which causes Julia to be even more upset about the whole situation.
Monica is Liz’s mom who travels a lot and doesn’t have a great relationship with Liz. I feel this trope is overdone although it’s one of my favorites. I liked Monica as a character overall. Although she’s sort of distant from Liz, when she heard about Liz’s accident while in another country, she rushed right home to the hospital. I like the little pieces we see of Liz’s and her mom’s relationship.
Liam is the guy who’s been secretly in love with Liz since fifth grade. He’s also the one responsible for Liz getting to the hospital. At first I felt his character was just the stereotypical character who is of course in love with the main girl in the book and on the outside of the high school popular realm. Fortunately became more than that throughout Falling Into Place. I loved seeing the interactions he had with Liz because they helped explain his character. Liam could be described as the nice guy, in love with possibly the wrong girl, willing to believe there’s still something good inside Liz Emerson despite how she’s treated him.
The narrator itself is disclosed until the end. I thought that was interesting and the narrator itself was a unique pick. We see flashbacks through the narrator’s eyes and learn more about Liz through them. The narrator knows Liz and at one time had a close relationship with her. I love that the narrator isn’t afraid to say who Liz really is despite her appearances and how Liz acted at times.
Liz was a lost character who wanted to find something worth living for, she wanted to see good in the world and she ultimately wanted to be a better person than she was. Some of the thoughts she had about herself were really sad to read about. She initially came off as a typical mean, queen bee, party girl, from a slightly broken home. Throughout Falling Into Place though, that perspective greatly changes.
Something rare, I found is that I liked Liz a lot despite her party girl tendencies and how she could be cruel, even to her best friends. I found Liz to be extremely relatable because she was a grey character. While she may have done some things not smart, she also did good things. She wasn’t all good or all bad, she made mistakes and she recognized them, carrying them with her more than I think she needed to. That is one of the things i liked about Liz, how she owned up to being wrong and knew her mistakes. I felt really bad for Liz because of how she felt and what she’d dealt with. Liz was definitely a flawed character, but for me, that just made reading about her that much enjoyable. Her relationship with her best friends wasn’t perfect and Liz did do some things she’d live to regret, but I could feel the love she had for them. Liz also didn’t have the best relationship with her mother, but there’s more to that than meets the eye. I liked how Liz acted certain ways for a reason, she partied because she didn’t like silence and she was lonely. Liz was a depressed girl, tired of the way her life was going and didn’t really see a point because she was toxic to everyone around her. Her behavior and feelings about herself were both raw and heartbreaking and written well.
I felt the book as a whole was realistic because it wasn’t just one big thing that caused Liz to want to end her life, it was multiple things. I like how Liz’s planned suicide wasn’t a impulsive thing, but rather she would give herself an amount of time to change and get help. In addition, she would kill herself on a specific day to help lessen her mother’s pain. I like how she gave herself a set limit of time to see if something would happen that would make her want to live again. Liz struggled with trying to change herself and trying to get the help she needs, this was really relatable for her character given she’s at the top of the high school social ladder and influence people. Liz didn’t want to reach out to Julia or Kennie which I found to be really believable. Liz Emerson is a defense for them, she’s their solid ground,and the one constant in their lives despite havoc she’s caused for both of them.
I think one of the reasons I loved Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang so much is because it was written about a high schooler while the author is in high school herself. I feel this gave the book an amount of accuracy and realism despite some stereotypes the book contained. Overall, I felt Falling Into Place was a great novel about attempted suicide and more importantly who people really are and their depths. In Falling Into Place, we learn there’s more to each of the characters than others initially see. The ending of Falling Into Place was enjoyable and I loved the writing style. The writing style itself was very beautiful with a lot of memorable quotes. The story seemed to flow really well together despite the nonlinear format. I rate this book five out of five stars because I didn’t see any flaws in it and the characters were well developed. I’ll definitely be on the look out for Amy Zhang’s works in the future.