Fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han will likely find The Upside of Falling by Alex Light an appealing read. Set in Georgia and bouncing between the two perspectives of the main characters, this debut novel tells the story of Brett Wells and Becca Hart, while also capturing a glimpse of high school social dynamics.
Brett is the captain of the football team and appears on the surface to have an idyllic life since he has been gifted with talent, good looks, and wealthy parents who love one another. Despite his “swoon-worthy eyes,” readers will discover that cracks and dents mar his perfect life.
Becca, on the other hand, lives with her mother after her parents divorced when she was twelve years old. Now, six years later, Becca still resists the idea of love, believing it is destructive and dangerous—an emotion that is safe only when lived vicariously through the romance novels she reads. If love couldn’t exist in reality, at least it was alive in fiction.
An avid reader and brainiac, Becca escapes into her books whenever life unravels out of control. Books make her feel better. In the alternate paper world of books, “anything is possible” (209).
Thinking that they can master a relationship without the risk of heartbreak, the two seniors decide to embark on a “fake relationship.” What starts out more for show and to please their parents, the fake relationship begins to mess with their feelings, blurring what is, and is not, real.
When they realize the fake has become real, life spins again, upsetting the balance of their lives. What was fake but fun no longer carries the same appeal when complications come knocking on life’s door.
Although Light’s novel is a lighthearted romance about friendship and moving on after heartbreak, it features some serious observations about life and love, not the least of which is that life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. Another key moral is that occasionally, under the guise of protection, we take away someone else’s power of choice.
- Posted by Donna