Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

Friday, July 3, 2015

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: September 9th, 2014
Pages: 304
Song I Played While Reading: Roses by The Chainsmokers
Rating: 4 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? 

This book reminded me of Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, mostly because it evoked the same reaction in me when I finished it; that quiet, thoughtful mood where you contemplate life and realize how precious it is.  I don't read a lot of suicidal/illness books because it leaves me with this weird hollow feeling, as if I'm wasting my life or not appreciating it enough. But the way Zhang intertwined Newtons Laws of Motions really cinched the deal for me. Plus, it might have been free on Amazon. Shoutout to whoever tweeted about it and made my day a whole lot better!
Theres nothing as complex as the popular girls in high school. I mean that shit is fascinating, in a weird sort of way where its like watching a train wreck and wanting to look away but not being able to. It's awful, but... you have to keep watching. Or reading, in this case. And I always say, when an author can make a reader care about the villain, or a cruel character, then you've stumbled upon gold. Some people don't like Liz solely because she's the mean girl and don't care that she struggles with depression. She chooses to say and do those mean things, and what her personal life and relationships are should not affect what she does to other people. I know this because I usually say this. But once in a blue moon, I stumble across a character who I can't help but want to cradle in my arms, even though they're awful and rude to people. I felt that way with Samantha in Before I Fall, and now I feel that way with Liz. 
She's so different from me, and had that all American upbringing and high school experience, that a part of me thrived off of reading about her. What person isn't ever jealous of the popular girls? To do whatever you want and get away with it all, to party all night and still show up to school hunger but beautiful, to be filthy rich and have everything you want at the tips of your fingers? It's so glamorous. 
But there was also this dark part of me that couldn't help but relate to her. It was the irrational fear of invisibility; of not having left your mark on the world. It was the feeling of being completely lost and scared, of not knowing who you are and struggling so hard to find that connection that once made you strong. I think everyone has gone through this is in some sort of way, and thats what really makes you care for Liz. She struggles to live. 
Besides her point of view, we also see the effects of her accident from her mother, best friends, and a boy who has a crush on her. It shows us the complexities of human nature, how everyone is flawed and struggling with something. No one is solely good or bad; there's a balance between them, and we see what happens when one side is tipped too far. Each person had a hand (all unintentionally) in her choice to driver her car off the road, and I love the idea of those connections bringing her back and making her want to live. It was beautiful to see how much of an impact Liz had on each of them too, and I teared up A LOT at the end. It's funny, but sad, how some people can only see the bad they cause when they can bring so much joy to others. 
I can't recommend this book enough, especially for people who like complicated characters. It was was absolutely breathtaking and refreshing, making you really think about human nature and the different type of masks people wear to survive. 

"Because Liz Emerson held so much darkness within her that closing her eyes didn't make much of a difference at all." 

"It was her oldest fear, that silence. She had always hated when there was nothing to say, hated the minutes of darkness at sleepovers as everyone drifted off but didn't quite sleep, hated study hall, hated pauses in phone calls. Other little girls feared the dark, and they grew up and left their fears behind. Liz was afraid of silence, and she kept her fear clenched so tightly in her fists that they grew and grew and swallowed her whole."

"She wished they had talked more about how all of the equations were derived. She wanted to know how Galileo and Newton and Einstein discovered the things they discovered. She wanted to know how they could have lived in the exact same world as every else but see things no one else did."

"Some people died because the world did not deserve them.
Liz Emerson, on the other hand, did not deserve the world." 

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