Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle

Title: The Edge of Falling
Author: Rebecca Serle
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: March 18th 2014
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: Bought
Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Like the rest of the blogosphere, I loved Rebecca Serle's debut, When You Were Mine, so I was very excited for another novel by the author. And luckily, Rebecca Serle did not disappoint - her writing is amazing, and I loved The Edge of Falling just as much as When You Were Mine!

I loved Caggie's voice throughout the story. She speaks very directly to the reader, which I'm not usually a fan of, since it can easily turn preachy or be used as a cop-out to give way too much backstory when it's not needed, etc. But Rebecca Serle totally made it work; scenes that could have been boring were somehow fascinating because Caggie's voice drew me in so completely. Caggie's voice feels so real and honest, and it presents the story in an entertaining and captivating way. Even though she makes some bad decisions, I felt for Caggie throughout the story. Her grief is heartfelt and honest, and I understood her even at her worst.

The secondary characters are good, too, for the most part. Caggie's parents' withdrawal and absence is kind of the point and an important part of the story, but I still wish we had gotten a bit more insight into their characters. While we do get to know Hayley, Caggie's little sister for whose death she blames herself, very well, I wish she hadn't been idealized quite as much, even if it makes sense for the way Caggie is grieving. I did really like Peter, Caggie's older brother, as well as her best friend Claire. (Can Claire get her own story, please? Her life sounds like the kind of intense I'd love to read about.) There's also a love triangle in The Edge of Falling, but before you run away screaming - this one actually works! This one feels very authentic and makes sense within the story. The relationships with both guys are very well-done, even though I wish the developments between Caggie and Astor hadn't come quite as quickly and had been explored in more depth.

I also loved the NYC setting. This felt a bit like a guilty pleasure, since The Edge of Falling is very much about the elite upper class society of New York, reminding me of the Gossip Girl series, and all those other rich-white-people stories I loved when I was 12. And even though I now realize that over-representation of the upper class in fiction, as well as The Edge of Falling's failure to discuss the issue of class in any meaningful way, is problematic, I couldn't help but love Caggie's descriptions of her life in the city. It might just be because I have some kind of weird obsession with New York City, but I loved how perfectly Caggie's voice captures the feel of the city. I especially loved Caggie's game of walking around in the city, and just going in the direction where the walk sign is on whenever she gets to an intersection and seeing where it brought her - I really want to try this one day.

One issue I had with The Edge of Falling is the lack of suspense. I don't really mind that it's predictable, because (in my opinion) a character-driven about overcoming grief doesn't really need unpredictable plot twists to be a good novel. But Caggie has some secrets about what happened when she "saved" her classmate who was trying to kill herself that could have easily been revealed in a surprising way towards the end. While we don't find out the details of what exactly happened that night until close to the end, it's mentioned in passing many times before than, so there is no element of surprise. Again, I don't think this story necessarily needs a plot twist like that, but since we already have this secret, I wish it had been utilized more to create a surprising revelation at some point in the novel.

I absolutely loved The Edge of Falling. Rebecca Serle perfectly balances beautiful writing that makes you stop and think with intriguing, relatable characters that move the story along. The Edge of Falling is an entertaining yet thought-provoking read that I definitely recommend. I can't wait to read more by this author!


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