The Girl Who Fell by S.M. Parker
Publication Date: Mar 1, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Simon Pulse
High school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense relationship—by the new boy in school.
Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.
But love has a way of changing things.
Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.
Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?
But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.
So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.
If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
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This was one of the most interesting YA books I’ve read in quite a while. It’s a contemporary that almost skirts into the territory of a psychological thriller with expertly plotted tension, and serious dark and twisted horrors lurking around the corners of what might in other books be a charming romance.
S.M. parker sets up the story from the start, where we begin at the end and are given a flash of high-stakes drama and then pulled out and back to the innocent beginning of the tale before winding up in darkness all over again in the end. I couldn’t decide whether I loved or hated this technique where darkness infiltrated every corner of what could have been read as a love story. Part of me reeled at how uncomfortable it made me as new scenes in the book unfolded, as I was never quite able to drive that beginning out of my mind. But another part of me wished I was as innocent as the protagonist Zephyr as she was experiencing these things for the first time without the benefit of a It made it impossible to tell if I would have seen it all coming, would have smelled danger in the air in time, without it being flashed before me bright and bold. As it stands, we know the danger lurks around the corner… but the danger comes in an attractive package, a handsome teen hockey goalie with promises of true love and so we read on, allowing ourselves to be deceived, questioning what we know to be real and true.
Beginning at the end may, in fact, be where much of the true genius of this book lies. With the uncomfortableness of not knowing if we would have made the same choices had we been young and faced with a boy who seemed so very perfect. Had we been young and had the misfortune of falling too far in love.
I’ve always said that I was lucky that I didn’t date much when I was in high-school. I had my impossible crushes and I went to prom but I didn’t venture into serious boyfriend territory until I was older. Even as an adult, not all my choices were the smartest ones. But as a teen, the uncomfortable truth is I can see far too much of myself in Zephyr and her wanting so much to believe in love at the expense of everything else in her life. Wanting it to save her, change her, letting it take over just a bit.
In many ways, this book was for me very much the experience of falling blindly in love. Of refusing to see the truth of things until it’s too late. I stand impressed by the author’s ability to make me root for a romance that she had set up as a most probable disaster. She hints without subtlety, telling us on page one that this isn’t going to end well, but then, somehow manages to convince us to fall as open and full of hope as our heroine. By the time we are sure that we’ve made a terrible mistake, it has gone too far and we are on a train hurtling fast and reckless towards the terrifying future we had glimpsed at the start, with nothing so secure as brakes to stop us.
There’s something both beautiful and lyrical in the writing at times, but not so often that it takes over the book. Instead, it serves to make certain phrases and moments in the story stand out as more profound for the care the author takes to place these precise words against a background of
I have to give this book mad credit for not only taking us on such a wonderful rollercoaster ride but for hitting the soft spot I have for YA books that manage to tackle serious issues in a way that shows, that speaks truth, that leaves room for discussion without ever preaching or placing blame. I found this book full of a surprising hope. And I can see it being an important read both as a cautionary tale, but also as a journey of healing and acceptance for all of us imperfect enough to be blinded by love into making choices that we later wish to change.
I can’t help but recommend this book for those who are looking for something a little deeper than the average contemporary romance. If you like a little mystery and even some psychological suspense in your fiction this is a great YA choice. I also recommend it on the basis of the subject matter alone. This book explores questions about when it’s okay to love and looks closer than most YA fare at the difference between love and obsession. The truly frightening part, in the end, may just be how subtle those differences can be. It’s a great book that talks about important issues facing teens and does so with grace and poise. I would tailor my recommendation on this one to those around ages 14+, due to some adult scenes and violence, so as much as I’d like my 12-year-old niece to read this book before she gets too far into dating, I do feel right now, she’s still a little too young.
4 out of 5 field hockey sticks
Review Copy Courtesy of Shannon Parker / Simon & Schuster.
Shannon Parker lives on the Atlantic coast with a house full of boys. She’s traveled to over three dozen countries and has a few dozen more to go. She works in education and can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel. Find her at www.shannonmparker.com
I was supposed to be a part of the blog tour that the lovely Brittany from Brittany’s Book Rambles did an astounding job of putting together for this book, but we had technical difficulties and I wasn’t able to post during that time. But there were tons of fantastic posts about the book that did go up during the tour! Do take some time and check them out below: