Review: Falling for You

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

Review: Falling for YouFalling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Published by Simon Pulse on January 1, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 355
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
Goodreads
four-stars

Rae's always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her...and the less she wants to give.

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous.

Then a tragedy lands Rae in the ICU. Now, hovering between life and death, Rae must find the light amid the darkness…and the strength to fight for life and the love she deserves.

First Sentence: At last I can breathe.

Review:
Going into Falling for You, I knew I was in for an emotional ride. I’d glanced at enough reviews to know that Falling for You deals with an abusive relationship. What I didn’t know was how much deeper this book is, how many wonderful ways that Schroeder’s novel sets itself apart. Though this book is sad and deals with painful subjects honestly, Falling for You is ultimately a tale of hope and inspiration.

Poetry has never really been my thing, which is why I am glad I started with this Schroeder novel, written predominantly in prose. I’m starting to open up my mind to poetry, but I’m easing into it. There are a number of poems woven throughout the novel, in the form of submissions to the school’s newspaper. I actually really love the poems, which are simple, beautiful and truthful, and fit Rae perfectly. My favorite poem is Cherish, which deals with comparing books to life and going for your happy ending, an excerpt of which you can see as my favorite quote down below. Her prose works really well too, and the poems add texture to the novel.

The story opens with foreshadowing. Rae is in the hospital, and the reader has no idea why. Month by month, the narration moves steadily forward towards some type of unknown danger. Schroeder makes good use of the device, luring the reader in, but not hitting the reader over the head with the foreshadowing hammer.

I just adore Rae as a main character. This girl has so many terrible things going on in her life, but she is just so strong and kind-hearted. Rarely do I encounter heroines with such adversity but such strong spirit. Rae does not come off as some sort of Pollyanna type either. She suffers a lot, and sometimes wants to give up, but she doesn’t; she powers through, and I admire her so much for that. She makes decisions, both good and bad, and takes ownership of all of them, never passing the blame for her own choices.

While I thought the main thrust of the book would be her abusive relationship with a boyfriend, the main focus is more on family, both the one you’re born into and the you build around you out of kindred spirits. Dean, her step-father, is the scum of the earth, but Rae’s mother can’t or won’t leave him. He orders Rae around, steals the money she earns from her part-time job, and hits her if she doesn’t please him. While he might be irredeemable, Schroeder shows the shades of gray in such a situation with the character of Rae’s mother, who, while not a bad person, is unable to resist the sway of this man, even though she knows what he is.

Rae gets involved with a new boy at school, handsome and intriguing. Rae has always kept people at arm’s length because she does not want anyone to know about the mess her family life is, and she never wants to end up like her mother. Something about Nathan calls to her, though. Schroeder depicts a very different kind of unhealthy relationship than those more often found in YA, one where he messes with her emotionally. Nathan pushes for sex and makes everything about his needs and wishes. He clings to her, jealous and needy. I love that Rae is very self-aware, not blind to what’s going on, but struggles to make the right decisions anyway. This shows, far better than blithe unawareness of his manipulation, how strong the impact and pull of such a boy can be.

What really makes Falling for You such a strong novel, though, is that, despite the hospital and the abuse and the money issues, it’s not an endlessly depressing book. There are a lot of sweet moments. Rae has friends she can depend on, and they have real conversations, good moments outside of everything else in her life. She loves her job and her coworkers. She finds fulfillment in submitting poems to her impassioned English teacher, Ms. Bloodsaw. Falling for You has a lovely message about paying it forward, doing your best to make this world a little bit better for someone, to brighten their day. This message is a wonderful one for teens and adults alike, and is shown, rather than merely lectured.

When I reached the halfway point in Falling for You, I went to Goodreads and added all of Schroeder’s other books to my to-read list, because I had read enough to know that I want to read everything this woman writes. Her beautiful writing, truthful depictions of real life situations, and well-drawn main character make Falling for You a book you cannot help falling in love with.

Favorite Quote:

“In books
we watch
as characters
go through
hard times.

We pull
for them
as they
struggle
to survive.

In our hearts
they deserve
the happy ending.

I haven’t always
rooted for myself.
Haven’t always
believed in my heart
that I deserve
the happy ending.”

24 responses to “Review: Falling for You”

  1. Bailey says:

    I just adore when reading one of a certain author’s books makes you want to pick up everything they’ve written/will write because it’s so good! 🙂 I’ve heard Falling for You is a bit of a tear jerker, so I’m glad there are some sweet moments! Great review. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      I love when I do that too, even if it is hell on my tbr pile. :-p That’s the good kind of hell.

      It is a bit of a tearjerker. I’m not a big crier, but I got close myself!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I read the first few pages of this online and was really drawn in…I have it on hold from the library! I will be interested to see if you like her verse novels because, while I like some things about them and have actually read them all at least twice, I have mixed feelings. I feel like in places they come off as overly simple, with cliche images and a little sentimentality…but I am OVERLY sensitive to sentimentality and I’m sure plenty of people think my writing is sentimental! I also thought her prose books for middle grade readers, It’s Raining Cupcakes and Sprinkles and Secrets, were very cute and sweet.

    • Christina says:

      Hmm, well, I don’t like overly sentimental things, as you know, but I liked these. of course, they weren’t the whole book, either. They made a nice change from the prose. They show the thoughts that Rae has been holding inside. If they do get overly sentimental, it makes sense, because they’re Rae’s only outlet.

    • Stephanie says:

      I’m just interested in what you’ll think if you read one of her books entirely in verse, especially since they’re almost all about death…but I’m sure I will hear about it if you do!

    • Christina says:

      Huh. This one wasn’t really about death. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll see when I do. Probably will be a while, since my review pile is nuts.

  3. Sunny Duvall says:

    So when I heard of this book, I was interested. But I hesitated with the abuse. I didn’t know if I would like it and while I love emotional books, I don’t know if I’d be ready for this type of book. However, your review is great and I think I’ll give it a try 🙂 love the quote!

    • Christina says:

      Ooh, you should. I really love the way the abuse was handled, because it didn’t make Rae feel any less like a strong person. It was really admirable, and a very different look than I’ve seen previously.

  4. Giselle says:

    So is it like, written in verse, or is the poetry part only in the actual poems? I’m not sure how I’d do with a verse novel. Poetry has never been my thing at all so I’m kind of iffy to try a whole book written in such a prose. I do like the sounds of this one though I enjoy hard, gritty books that deal with a lot of different emotions and it has been getting a lot of positive feedback. Maybe I’ll try an excerpt first and see if the prose makes me tweeze my eyeballs out >.<

    • Christina says:

      No, it’s not written in verse, except for the poetry. I think her other books are all verse, but this was a good place for me to start, since I’m hesitant about verse.

      Reading a sample before purchasing is never a bad plan!

  5. Renae says:

    Oh! I hadn’t realized this was in verse. Doh! I’m actually a big fan of poetry—especially contemporary/postmodern, but I’m picky. I don’t like emo angsty teen nonsense, which is what’s been in the couple of novels-in-verse I’ve perused at the bookstore. I do, though, think the theme of abuse is interesting—and, if done well, could be really awesome, à la Jennifer Brown’s Bitter End.

  6. Oh, wow. I too am trying to open my mind to poetry, and one of my critique partners LOVES Lisa Schroeder’s work. Now you have added all her work… Time for me to go to Goodreads, I see. More for the TBR pile!

  7. I love books with poetry in them, so this excites me (even though that particular aspect isn’t your fave.) This one sounds pretty emotionally draining. And I kept thinking of If I Stay as I was reading the review, maybe the whole ICU/ hovering between life and death thing. But I really love that you have gone and marked all of this author’s books as ‘to be read.’ That’s impressive and makes me want to check her out even more:)

    • Christina says:

      There is that element, I suppose, but I think the tone generally runs a bit more to the happy side. It’s honestly not as depressing as I was expecting, which is actually a good thing I think.

  8. YES! YES! Oh my freakin god. Yes. Ew, lol I probably sound awkward in this comment. But seriously it makes my soul happy to see that you loved Falling For You. Like you, I promptly resolved to read the rest of Schroeder’s books after finishing Falling For You, because it really spoke to me and the poems were actually good. Plus, like you said, there are dark issues but also rays of light. AND YES RIGHT ON THE MONEY about Rae knowing that Nathan is manipulative, but still struggling to break it off, regardless.

    • Christina says:

      BAHAHAHAHA

      Or Raes of light! *snorts*

      I just thought Schroeder achieved such a nice, realistic balance of emotions, keeping it from feeling at all forced or melodramatic. She’s not like pulling for tears but for realism.

  9. Estelle says:

    What a fantastic review! I love what you said about it having a lot of sad subject matter, but there were still happier/brighter parts. (Have you read “What Happens Next?” I felt the same about that one.)

    I just bought this on Friday and I can’t wait to read it! Really really excellent review and I love the quote you pulled.

  10. *happy dance* We agree on another book! Lisa is up there on my favorite author/auto-buy/shove in everyone hands list.

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