[Review] The Girl Who Fell — Shannon M. Parker

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

Synopsis:

His obsession.
Her fall.

the-girl-who-fell-shannon-m-parker-book-coverHigh 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.

(re: Goodreads @ The Girl Who Fell by Shannon M. Parker)

Author Info:

the-girl-who-fell-shannon-m-parker-author-imageShannon 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

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Initial Thoughts

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.

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Afterthoughts:

Premise

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.


Setting

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.


Narration

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].


Characters

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.

the-girl-who-fell-shannon-parker-quoteOne 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.


Overall

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!


Follow The Blog Tour & Giveaway

12/01/15: Blessie @ Mischievous Reads Dreamcast
13/01/15: Emily @  Emily Reads Everything Review
14/01/15: Brittany @ Book Rambles Tour Group’s Favourite Quotes
15/01/15: Tika @ Fangirl Confessions Movie Playlist
16/01/15Kristen @ My Friends Are Fiction Review
17/01/15: Melanie @ One Less Lonely Blog Review + Interview
18/01/15: Cyra @ Rattle The Pages Review + 5 Reasons You Need to Read TGWF
19/01/15: Jocelyn @ Novels and Necklaces Interview
20/01/15Cat @ Let the Pages Reign Review
21/01/15: Aentee @ Read at Midnight 5 Ways TGWF Destroyed YA Tropes + iPhone wallpapers
22/01/15: Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles Review + Interview
23/01/15: Joey @ Another Afterthought Review
24/01/15: Stefani @ Caught Read Handed Review + Interview
25/01/15: Hanna @ Two Sister’s Blogging Review
26/01/15: Michella @ YA Books Girl Review + Playlist
27/01/15: Michelle @ Dreaming of Alba Review
28/01/15: Jamie @ Books and Ladders Review + Interview
29/01/15: Eileen @ BookCatPin Review
30/01/15: Brian @ Brian’s Book Thoughts Review
31/01/15: Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler Review + Interview

Cheers,
Joey

connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads

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23 thoughts on “[Review] The Girl Who Fell — Shannon M. Parker”

  1. I saw field hockey in the synopsis and thought, I must read this! And then you dashed my hops, stating that the sports aspect was pretty insignificant. Now I’m disappointed 😦 Guess I won’t be picking this up after all since I play hockey and if it has misrepresentations like ice hockey did, then I’ll probably just be disappointed. Sigh. More books involving sports need to get the sport right. Sigh.

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    1. I didn’t even know there was ice hockey until I read it. Maybe it’s time we relinquish our hopes of sports-influenced contemporaries featuring the highly accurate and adrenaline pumping athletics (like Kuroko no Basuke, Haikyuu etc. if you’re familiar).

      Though I cannot say whether or not the field hockey content was fair or not, the contents of the abuse is definitely the focal point!

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  2. great review Joey, I really need to get this book soon. I don’t know how things work in the rest of the world, but in portugal, the date that determines when you start classes is the beginning of the year, if your 6th birthday is until 31st of December, you can start school in september with 5 years, if it is on January 1st, you have to wait a year… though I don’t know the context of this book.
    As you, I would like to read a book that would reverse the roles, because I things there’s still a huge stigma and misconception that women can’t be the abusive one in the relationship, and I would like to read something that would acknowledge that it not only can, but it happens.

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    1. Yeah I definitely didn’t really accurately follow the age thing. It’s not really a big concern but it just confused the heck out of me because I was reflecting on my life thinking “but I [and people who I knew online through gaming around my age] graduating high school at 17 (if your bday was through sept-dec). IDK IT IS VERY WEIRD LOL.

      It’s definitely a concern that is easily overlooked. I see it on television a lot (or maybe I just feel as though Criminal Minds features a lot of those kinds of dynamics in their villains LOL) but I do want to read one of those stores one day!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! This sounds so interesting. I am going to have to read it.
    I get the birthday in June-starting late thing. Here, school starts in September. If you’re 5 by August 31st, you start school. If she was already 18 at the beginning of the year, then she started school when she was 6 instead of 5. That would make it a year later. It’s a big trend to hold kids with summer birthdays out of school for a year so they will be more “mature” when they start school. Not sure how that would apply to the book. I think it would be awesome to see a book like this with the roles swapped.

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  4. Ooh, you’re part of a blog tour! I wanted to read this book but just from reading the synopsis of both the book again and review, I don’t think I will. I’m tired of hetero romance in YA contemporary, you know? It’s not original, anymore. Really overdone. I’m going to continue reading your review now.

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    1. Haha, yeah my first blog tour!

      I totally understand where you’re coming from, Wesaun! Though the market is oversaturated with hetero romances, the driving reason for me to pick up TGWF was in the social commentary and dynamics it offered to abuse; which I thought was okay.

      But yeah, go forth and read whatever you want!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a really balanced review – a bunch of positives and negatives. I don’t usually go in for contemporary myself, but it’s an interesting and often-ignored concept to be exploring (abusive relationships), something that, in my country at least, has been increasingly the topic of discussions in the public and federal eye in the past year or two.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Joey, I might keep an eye out for this book one day.

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    1. You are so kind, Brett :(!

      As a story for the often voiceless, I thought it was executed well. If you ever come across contemporaries (or otherwise) that feature a male protagonist being physically/mentally abused, I’d love to hear it! And that’s interesting to hear that such a social topic has reflected in your -federal- politics!

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  6. I’ve been a lot more in the mood for thoughtful books lately, and it’s good to know where to start! I feel as though with the topics of abuse, a lot of authors have difficulty representing a relateable character. (This allegedly also happened in Ugly and The Vegetarian). I wonder if abuse is such a common thing in our society because people have trouble finding sympathy for the kind of personality that attracts it?

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    1. It could also be that it’s difficult to really get a sense of the feeling of abuse when you’re on the outside looking in; as if as much as you understand where it’s taking you, it may or may not have that raw feeling of something you’d fully grasp unless you’ve endured that kind of emotion before.

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