Saturday, February 5, 2011

REVIEW: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

by Courtney Summers
Released on 12.21.2010
230 pages
St. Martin’s Griffin
Source: Library

Synopsis

From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father. 

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?  (from GoodReads)

REVIEW:  Have you ever had a delayed reaction to something?  You don’t react when it actually happens, but later, the enormity of what has happened and the emotions you have because of it sort creep up behind you and hit you in the back.  Not to your head, because you’re always conscious, but right to your spine, so you feel the hit.

That was my experience with Fall for Anything.  When I finished it, I was like, “Yeah, good book: steady plot, interesting characters, good writing, some shocking moments at the exact right times.  Yeah, solid read.”  But I wasn’t emotionally attached.  I just wasn’t – something didn’t click.

And then I started writing my review, and I was really surprised at the emotions that sneaked their hands around my waist from behind.  And then I realized precisely how much I liked Eddie.  And how much I wanted to absolutely punch almost everyone around her, including her catatonic mother.  And then I would find her dad’s grave, dig him up, and punch him, too (hey, he left her in horrendous situation – completely pro-Eddie, here).  We won’t talk about what I wanted to do to her mom’s best friend.

Wow, does that sound angry?  Yeah, I was angry.  What Eddie went through was bullshit, pure and simple.  Unfortunately, it happens.  In short, dad checked out permanently, mom was present but um, vacant, you could say, and mom’s unwelcome best friend (Beth) checked-in, but not for Eddie, the 17 year-old in this story.  Oh no, she checked in for mummy WHO SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER! 

Basically, everyone (save one person) abandoned Eddie in the book.  And then Eddie’s grief high jacked her own better judgment and sense of clarity (thanks, daddy-o).

Excuse me why I go take friggin’ deep cleansing breath (I hate you, Beth). 

Okay, good now – let’s get back to the basics then, shall we?

Right from the start, Eddie simply wasn’t a character I could pity.  I actually think she’d be pretty pissed at me if I did.  It got me thinking, “When did pity become a bad thing?”  After all, it’s akin to sympathy, and feeling a heartfelt, emotional connection with someone isn’t usually a bad thing.  I think pity is different because the word has developed this connotation of being a face value emotion.  It’s like saying, “Oh, that’s such a shame.  Well, call me next week – I have to fix dinner now.”  Feeling pity for a character like Eddie would’ve been like leaving a casserole on her doorstep, but never actually being there for her.  It’s thinking someone won’t be able to claw back to hope, and you're already looking at them like they’re washed up.  Pity is too defeatist and shallow an emotion to offer up to someone who has been through a personal hell and just wants answers.

Eddie’s father has left her in a severe state of mental anguish with absolutely jack to hold onto.  When we first meet Eddie, I don’t think she even knows how deep the pain runs – it’s literally to the point where she's numb, and she’s experiencing psychosomatic symptoms.  If her mom was with it, maybe she could've have gotten Eddie into grief counseling, but that was a no-go.  To make matters just peachy, her best friend has moved in to ***motivate*** her mom back to life – think a female version of Richard Simmons with a more militant attitude and less compassion, but she would completely whip out some jazz hands if she thought it would help Eddie’s mom.  I could appreciate it, if she wasn’t so harsh towards Eddie.

Cherry that sundae of sadness with Culler.  Yes, please do say that name with an italicized emphasis and disgusted sneer – out of the people who used Eddie and/or her mother’s loss for personal gain (although they lied to themselves and called it something else), this guy was the worse.  He could’ve been a great, big brother type for her in a perfect world, or picked the road of aloof kindness, but life’s about decisions, no?  And Mr. Artsy Photographer made his.  He was the variable in this book, the what-if monkey wrench who turned into a. . .  well, I won’t tell you what he did, obviously.  Drop me a line when you find out and we’ll have a character roast.

And, oh Milo, bless that guy for being Eddie’s personal lighthouse.  She needed a rock  Unfortunately, both she and Milo were both dealing with grief, and that clouded both their decisions.  The choices that Eddie made from her grief, from her father’s selfish, selfish decision.  .  . he would’ve died twice had he seen the circumstances his daughter put herself in.  Grief can make you do crazy things, but you are searching for peace so hard that the decisions seem rational and needed.  Eddie felt she needed to do something because the actual truth of why her father took his own life had no rationale to it - it wasn't something she could face, especially since he had rational reasons for staying (like being there for her).  Eddie wanted steady ground to stand on.  The things she did were stupid and naive, but no, I can’t bring myself to blame her.  After all, would I have done any different,  being 17, physically abandoned by one parent and emotionally by another?  That’s the real trick about this book – most of the characters were authentic.  So believable.  Even when Eddie was doing something crazy, it still felt real.  If you had to switch shoes with her, you might find yourself doing the same.  That’s the sad part: I still don’t know if she’s going to be okay.  I don’t think we’re meant to.

I didn’t cry while reading this book.  Like I said, there was a detachment there that kept me from really sinking in.  But, if Eddie was real, I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from checking on her at night, just like Milo did.  I didn’t completely connect with her, but I sure did care about what happened to her.

Okay, now I’m tearing up a bit.

Yeah, I recommend this book.

Quotes:

I take a swig from Milo’s flask and hand it back to him.  He screws the top back on. He inherited the flash from his grandfather and stole the liquor from his mother.  The circle of life.
-pg. 8

I want to go into the sympathy card business.  . .  Forget sappy messages about overcoming.  I want ones that say NOW YOU’LL BE A LESSER PERSON THAN YOU WERE or WE CANNOT POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND or I CAN UNDERSTAND BECAUSE SOMEONE I KNOW DIED TOO or maybe something about how grief can make your skin feel sore and bruised and electric because that’s how my skin has felt ever since, except for my hands.
-pg. 40

I know some friendships can’t stand horrible things happening, no matter how strong you think they are.  People will never lose the ability to surprise you.  I read it on some Web site about how other people will react to your grief and these four words stuck with me:

            Your constants may falter.
Pg. 74-75

The man who did every stereotypical father clichĂ© in the book and acted like he loved it.  I don’t think of him anymore.  I buried him.  Now it’s like I’m looking for answers to a stranger’s death and I couldn’t even tell anyone why it’s so important to me, because this stranger didn't do anything for me.  He never showed himself to me. . . “
Pg. 133

If anyone else said that to me, I think I’d roll my eyes, but Culler saying it to me means me committing it to memory and locking it inside so I’ll always have it.
Pg. 151

14 comments:

  1. Love those quotes and your review. I just wanted to hug Eddie and Milo and punch the crap out of Culler. This book just got me all emotional. I really must try Summers' other books.

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  2. Oh, I wanted to punch everyone else, but there was somethng pathetic about what Culler did that just made me want to drop him off in the middle of the woods without his camera and let him find his way back to civilization without a map or compass. Yeah, I know that's screwed up, but seriously, he deserves something creepy like that.

    -Linds

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  3. Great review! I have this one in my pile to read. I think I have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. I'm glad to see a real review of this. Most people don't like it but you are honest about it hitting you when you least expect it.

    Heather

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  4. People either seem to really like it or not like it (it's average rating on GoodReads is four stars). It's really not the sort of book that one loves; it's about an absolutely saddening and devestating situation made worse by the actions of others. I think it's a very true-to-life tale of what happens when things like this happen. If you need a definite ending, or one that leaves with a My Little Pony, this is not a story for you; but if you like stories about human experience, then you I think this one works.

    Of course, I don't know who picks up a book about the aftermath of a suicide and expects to leave feeling good.

    -Linds

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  5. Wow. GREAT review. I've had this one on my TBR list for a while, and I've been looking forward to it, but I just moved it to the top of my list.

    Also. . . best review I've read in awhile. Just saying. :)

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  6. This is a great review, l have been like that with would a few books. Not loved them but realised how amazing it was when l have finished reading it.
    l think it can depend on the time you read the book etc

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  7. @Kelly - Thank you so much! I try to write very personal reviews, so I definitly apprecaite the feedback! I hope you like the book!

    @BfC - Yeah, it was odd, I was writing the review, and bam! I just got really angry at a lot of characters.

    -Linds

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  8. Stunning review Linds, I loved what you said about pity and how pitying her would be like leaving a casserole on her doorstep as opposed to being a pillar of support. Brilliant. I have this one in my pile, I can tell it's going to make me angry in some areas, but I always like that because it means I'm involved:) Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this one!

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  9. I really want to get me hands on this book. Thanks for the review!!

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  10. @Jenny - thank you! I was never angry at Eddie, although I think she acted unfairly towards others at times. Given age, experience and circumstance, I can understand. It was the so-called adults that really had me seeing red. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

    @Savy - I got it from my library, but it's readily available in book stores. I hope you find it engaging! (I always want to say, "I hope you enjoy it," but that feels wrong to say about a book that has a suicide as a foundation.) I hope you care for Eddie like I did. There, that works!

    -Linds

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  11. Incredible review. I love it when books surprise you... Even way after the fact :) I have this one on my shelf. I'll have to get to it sooner than later!!

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  12. Linds, truly, I love you. I love how deeply invested you become, even if it takes a while to brew. It takes a special kind of crazy to want to dig up a grave, just to punch somebody, and I have to admire that about you.

    And I loved this: "Pity is too defeatist and shallow an emotion to offer up to someone who has been through a personal hell and just wants answers."

    You are definitely right about that. I haven't read this book yet, but now I really want to. Not every story gives us a happy ending, even if we long for it, and oddly enough, that kind of comforts me. Rainbows are nice to look at but they are not tangible; sounds like the emotions you felt after reading this one are.

    Thanks for sharing, Mrs.

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  13. @Jen - thanks so much! I hope you'll review it, too - always good to swap thoughts.

    @Missie - "It takes a special kind of crazy to want to dig up a grave, just to punch somebody, and I have to admire that about you." HA!! I stand by my statement, and I am proud and happy that my literary insanity has earned your admiration. What can I say? I've always had excellent reading comprehension, and I think I just find it easy to sympathize and occasionally emphasize with well-written characters. You just wait til you get your hands on Raw Blue, lady - prepare to become a puddle of gooooo :)

    -Linds

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  14. I'm ready for it! Actually very excited about it.

    I tried to start SV, but it didn't grab me right away, so I put it down. Will revisit it soon.

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