Book Title: The Girl Who Fell (Standalone) Author: Shannon M. Parker Number of pages: 320 Release Date: March 1, 2016 Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Simon Pulse Pre-order Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
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.
Author Info: 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 Links: Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr review:
– A standard YA contemporary opening that begins cutting open popular tropes and examines the romance in an imperfect light; a masterclass in detecting abusive and destructive relationships
– Small town vibes featuring students who are uniformly represented (no archetypes distinguishing bullies from nerds etc.)
– Complex relationships and corroding character frameworks; ensemble is rounded out with present parents and friendships that struggle at action/inaction
– Synopsis may prime the reader to dislike the antagonist and stifle that character’s depth
– Sports aspect isn’t integrative to make a difference if removed
I [figuratively] punched holes in many walls while reading this book.
Full disclosure: I received an e-ARC of The Girl Who Fell from Edelweiss. I extend thanks to Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse and Brittany @ Book Rambles for inviting me on this blog tour.
With its massive blurb, Shannon Parker’s The Girl Who Fell is upfront as to what it’s set on achieving and it certainly delivers on its promise of a dark kissing book. Much like horror films where happiness rules the first third of the film–followed by shit suddenly rolling down the proverbial stairs into darkness–this story follows that pattern. When things are good, everything is smiles and daffodils. But when things get murky, the rawness of life shines and the writing cuts open popular tropes and examines the romance in an imperfect light.
To be frank, I was hoping for more inclusion from the sports aspect (being one of the selling points to read this) but that’s on me.
The school and surrounding community is soundly represented. There aren’t archetypes in the student body that are out of place; everyone is normal and striving to do well. Zephyr and friends can be considered near the top of the food chain based upon their sporting notoriety (re: “hot jocks”) but the story doesn’t pass off achievement for arrogance. And that’s a big win for realistic fulfillment.
The small town vibes allow this story to thrive in an open space while becoming increasingly claustrophobic as darkness claims the protagonist one unnoticed moment of manipulation after another.
It’s great that athletics are featured but like many romance contemporaries, I didn’t find the subject integrative enough to matter. The story could still thrive without this narrative element. Moreover, there are moments that elicited a “lol what? that’s improbable” distorting the representation of the sport (and ultimately present to push drama). Of course, I’m speaking to the accuracy of ice hockey and not the field hockey counterpart.
I’m going to preface the next bit with this: I understand the intent of manipulation and abuse endured throughout The Girl Who Fell. However, one of the prominent narrative challenges [for me] is executing the writing in a way which allows the antagonist to be more than their defined check-boxes and I can’t say I enjoyed how it was presented.
It’s just unfair to be screaming “no, don’t do it…” so early on without knowing this character.
That’s how my reading experience can be best described. It’s not as if I, the reader, was Zephyrs best friend or teammate who could only witness the superficial appearance of their relationship in passing from classes etc. The blurb primed me to actively hate this kid before page one and that definitely stifled my outlook on their character depth.
That being said, Parker’s first-person narrative was compelling to follow. The diction? Provocative and stirred mixed emotions throughout the read (expletives included) and it does well to exemplify the grey areas of relationships. Though it introduces the romance by instalust (new kid on the block vibes), the progression of the story cultivates a slow burn. It isn’t far-fetched to say that The Girl Who Fell delivers a masterclass in headlining signs of abusive relationships even if it’s at the expense of sympathy [for the baddie].
Complex relationships and corroding character frameworks underscores this story. Zephyr Doyle is one of those protagonists who tug at the heartstrings and make you wonder “dang, wtf are you doing?” and it’s in this reaction that best portrays why The Girl Who Fell is important.
In the realm of family and friends, Parker introduces a virus so to speak that gnaws away at the values forming the basis which characters are supported by. Each unfurled layer is candidly presented as a conflict of love; its legitimacy questioned over and over again. It’s essentially a vigorous battle between mind-and-heart that will have you reeling over the decisions being made.
One thing that probably isn’t a concern to others (as it was for me) is the missing context in Zephyr’s character. She begins her senior year after her 18th birthday in June, and while it’s not impossible for that to happen, I understood it as though she started schooling a year late. This was just a passing thought as everything else supports her studious and ambitious nature.
The ensemble is rounded out with a broken-but-not-M.I.A-family (whom are more active than your standard YA parent) and solid friendships who struggle between action and inaction. I’ll let you discover Zephyr’s other “better” half for yourself.
Shannon Parker’s The Girl Who Fell tackles what I’d imagine an abusive relationship to look like. It opens with an explosive bang by [figuratively] stabbing me right in the gut, and as I try to coax the bleeding, the story recants every misdirection and manipulative action pushing the protagonist deeper into this position of isolation; to the feeling of being stabbed to begin with. This story is not happy, nor is it sad, but rather one that elicits a reaction; a topic that ought to be read and discussed as so often it remains invisible.
As a side comment: I’d be interested to see the roles being reversed-the representation of men struggling in unhealthy relationships and abuse. If you know of any books that tackle this, give me a shout!
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