Review | Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

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.

4 cupcakes

“She wished to be happy, and fell asleep with an entire sky watching over her.”

Falling Into Place is told in an unconventional, non-linear fashion, which was an incredibly effective way of showcasing the relationship between the choices that one makes and the effects that they have. Flashbacks are interspersed with present day scenarios as an omnipresent narrator provides the details of Liz Emerson’s story. The writing itself is beautiful and poetic, lending an incredibly compelling voice to this unknown narrator – especially when you stop and consider the fact that Amy Zhang is only 18 years old. The revelation of the narrator’s identity is just as unique and interesting – after all, spoiler: I’ve never actually read a book from the perspective of a childhood imaginary friend).

None of the characters were particularly likeable, and Liz and her friends could easily be considered “mean girls” given the way that they treated their classmates. That’s not to say that I didn’t sympathize with them; as the story progressed, I gained a better understanding of their characters and how they became the way that they did, and I found myself hoping that it wasn’t too late to make some positive lifestyle changes.

My favourite part of Falling Into Place was seeing how Newton’s Laws of Motion were integral to the storyline. “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction” does not only apply to forces; instead, as Liz quickly finds out, our actions and words can have profound effects on others, and we often don’t consider the repercussions until it is too late. The effects of Liz’s actions were quite dramatic and encompassed basically all of the issues that you could think of (from drug abuse to suicide), and while it sometimes felt excessive, it illustrated the point fairly well.

Overall, Falling Into Place is a poignant, beautifully written story that will cause you to think critically about the choices you make.

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