Written by author Amy Zhang while she was still in high school, Falling Into Place explores the life of Liz Emerson, a high school it-girl willing to do just about anything to stay at the top of the social ladder. Liz develops a conscience as she notices the way her actions affect the lives of her peers and, feeling like nobody really knows her or cares about who she really is, she decides it would be better for all involved if she just killed herself. So she plans it out and goes through with her plan.
Now, a book like this has the potential to be horribly depressing, but this one isn’t. Zhang’s writing is raw and gritty (language, casual sexual references, drug use, and more) but it’s also intriguing and ultimately hopeful. The way the story is constructed, told in chunks hopping around from months before her suicide to childhood memories to the moments before the crash, allows the reader a chance to really understand Liz and her closest friends and family members. Through these snipers of story we come to know Liz’s whole story, and we can see that she’s not nearly as alone as she believes that she is.
Falling Into Place is gut-wrenching and honest and relevant in a way that must come from the author’s age – in high school herself when it was written – which makes it impossible to ignore. SE Hinton wrote about the Greasers and the Socials, rumbles and drive-ins, when she was just a teenager herself, and Falling Into Place will do much the same for today’s world. The issues of drugs, promiscuity, bullying, social media, depression, and suicide are all very real in the lives of today’s high schoolers, and it’s in books like this that those issues find a solid voice.
The stories of Liz, Julia, Kennie, and Liam will not be soon forgotten. This is a remarkable debut from a talented writer; Zhang is definitely one to watch for the future.
I highly recommend checking out Falling Into Place, which is out now. You can find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.