Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang | Book ReviewFalling into Place by Amy Zhang
Also by this author: Falling into Place, This Is Where the World Ends
Published by Harper Collins on September 9th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, Friendship, Bullying, Death & Dying
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062295064

One cold fall day, high school junior Liz Emerson steers her car into a tree. This haunting and heartbreaking story is told by a surprising and unexpected narrator and unfolds in nonlinear flashbacks even as Liz's friends, foes, and family gather at the hospital and Liz clings to life. This riveting debut will appeal to fans of Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver, and 13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
"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 did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? The 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.

I love that feeling of reading a book in a single sitting. Is there anything better than being enthralled in a book from cover to cover? I think not. Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang was the most recent book that I’ve read all at once. I bring this up because I think that in order for me to be able to sit in one place with the same book and not feel the need to accomplish all of the things instead, the book has to be super compelling. Guys, Zhang has got the hook. She’s got this engaging and gripping writing style coupled with a narrative voice that refused to let me go. And trust, with my wandering brain it’s really hard to keep me hooked in for the entire duration of a book.

Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang certainly merits comparisons to Before I Fall and If I Stay. It is about a mean girl named Liz Emerson who decides to run her Mercedes off the road after learning about Newton’s laws. She doesn’t want to commit suicide because of physics. Instead, Falling Into Place tells us why Liz does what she does over a non-linear narrative featuring an ambiguous but sympathetic narrator. We, the reader, are privy to various points in Liz’s life that shape her and to moments when Liz has shaped the lives of others, for better or for worse. We see what happens before Liz crashes her Mercedes and what happens after she crashed her Mercedes.

Liz Emerson comes across as a total mean girl. Her actions are far from innocent. Yet, given that she’s to the point of desperation where she feels that she has no reason to live and given the fact that I am capable of empathy, I felt for the girl. I did not hate Liz or find her to be the worst character ever, undeserving of sympathy. Zhang writes a character who has depths, who is complex and who is complicated. I love that Liz has some trauma in her past. I love that she really has not overcome that trauma at all. I love that she tries to reach out for help for the pain she’s going through, but no one is able to look past her hardened, mean girl exterior. I mean, she’s the most popular girl in her class. She seems like she’s got it together. I guess her character just goes to show that you can’t judge someone by the impression they give off — I mean just because someone looks like they have their shit together does not actually mean that they do.

What I loved the most about Amy Zhang’s Falling Into Place were her supporting characters. I loved Liz’s best friends, Julia and Kennie. Julia is this girl who is very composed and graceful. She comes across as completely comfortable in her own skin. Her dad is pretty much a millionaire. She is genius smart. She’s also gorgeous. Liz hates her instantly, but they end up becoming best friends. And well, Julia is a true and solid friend who loses all composure when she gets news of Liz’s accident. I love that, I mean that we see Julia’s got issues and that she is so deeply affected. Then there’s Liz’s other best friend, Kennie. Kennie is from one of the founding families of the town. She’s someone who is securely popular and who will always be like that because of her family name. She’s on the dance team. Anyways, Kennie does not totally have it altogether and is a bit dim compared to Julia and Liz, yet she’s a mostly sweet girl. Anyways, what happens with Liz completely snowballs Kennie, and okay she does some things to get attention, but when you get her whole backstory, you understand why she’s the way that she is and again, there’s that whole empathy thing.

There’s a slight romance in the story, but honestly, it was not a highlight for me, so I guess I will just skip talking about it.

I just want to say that I really loved how Falling Into Place was written. I love that it follows an unconventional narrative style. I love that we don’t know who the narrator is. I love that we get these little pieces parceled out to us as to who the real Liz is and why she did what she did. I love that no one in this book is unscathed by trauma. I love that despite the awful, horrible things these characters do and experience that there’s this thread of resilience that ultimately comes out. Sure, Liz hits rock bottom to get there, but well, you will see what happens.

Also, I thought that it was kind of interesting to read this immediately after reading Afterworlds because that book is about a high school girl who gets a publishing deal and the year after while she’s in graduated and living in NYC and this book was written by a girl who was still in high school according to the letter inside it from Susan Katz. For some odd reason, I thought that was neat.

Anyways, Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang is emotional and captivating, you should read it for your next big sobfest.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Yes, this… “in order for me to be able to sit in one place with the same book and not feel the need to accomplish all of the things instead, the book has to be super compelling.”

    And the fact that this is how you felt about the book makes me a TON more excited to read it. And I mean, I was already pumped. But now just moreso. Aaaand I’m rambling. 😉
    Magan recently posted..Estelle: Adrenaline Crush by Laurie Boyle CromptonMy Profile

  2. I’ve seen a couple excellent reviews for this one today. Contemporary is usually my least-read genre but I will admit, I’m intrigued by this one. I loved Before I Fall and If I Stay.
    The Avid Reader recently posted..Book Review: How To Be a Good Wife by Emma ChapmanMy Profile

  3. I love your review and totally agree that this was such a compelling story. I liked the non-linear nature of the narrative too and that she had these great friends who were such a support. I empathized with Liz too. I mean she couldn’t be all bad if she had three really great people who cared about her and would feel lost without her. They weren’t just surface friends.

    Curious what you think about the very last part of the story. I’ve heard some mixed thoughts about how it ended and I’m sort of mixed I think.
    Rachel recently posted..Random Thoughts: The TBR PileMy Profile

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