Tackling some of the same powerful questions he did in his stunning debut You, Charles Benoit’s latest for young adults is Fall From Grace.
High school senior Sawyer’s life is already neatly planned out for him: finish his above average high school career, packed with all the right extra-curriculars and volunteer work, go to the local liberal arts college and major in accounting for a career as an insurance actuary, and after college marry his beautiful, perfect high school sweetheart. And until the day at the Mock United Nations assembly when he meets Grace, Sawyer has never bothered to question the plans his parents so painstakingly make for him. As he sees it, it’s much easier to just go with the flow and let his future unfold without any fuss, bother, or effort on his part. But when quirkily-cute, dark haired Grace says “I need you to steal something for me,” Sawyer’s eyes open for the first time in his life. Here’s a girl who’s eccentric, who dares to challenge the status quo, who causes him to question just about every decision he’s ever let anyone else make on his behalf, and who actually expects him to think and act like a real human being.
As Sawyer and Grace start spending more time together (as friends, even though Sawyer, like any guy, thinks about a little more) he really starts taking a hard look at how easily he’s allowed himself to be directed, molded and controlled by all the people in his life. Grace’s life plan is 180* different from anything Sawyer ever imagined: not only does she want to be famous, but every choice she makes has to be about having fun. Sawyer can’t honestly remember if he’s ever made a choice purely for fun. About the time Sawyer is starting to take some of Grace’s lessons to heart and stand up to his parents, the plans he and Grace have been making might well get seriously out of hand. And it may all prove that Grace is no different than anyone else in Sawyer’s life – she was just controlling him for her own ends.
In the end, Sawyer and Kyle (from You) both fall prey to a “villain” who zeros in on them because they don’t stand up for themselves and they are both content to let other people make all their choices for them. Aside from Grace and Sawyer, who are both multifaceted and engaging characters, the other people who populate Fall From Grace are more like stereotypes of controlling parents, jealous perfectionist girlfriends, etc. But there’s a real emotional resonance to Sawyer’s story that anyone who feels their choices are not their own and the life they’re living isn’t the one they wanted will immediately appreciate.
- Posted by Cori