Title: Falling Out of Place
Author: M G Higgins
May Contain Spoilers
Falling Out of Place was an unsolicited review copy, and when I pulled it out of the envelope, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I have had a few issues with other Saddleback publications, and while I have found them all compulsively readable, I wasn’t always impressed with the quality of writing or the presentation values. I started reading this book because it was short, it looked like a fast read, and I wasn’t really in the mood for anything else. I am so glad that I did start it, because by the third chapter, I could not put it down. This story hit all the right spots for me, and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting.
Gabby is an angry young woman. Her sisters are perfect compared to her, and her parents keep ragging on her to get better grades and work harder in school. Gabby hates school. What she loves is basketball, and when she’s on the court, she hustles and gives her all. After a series of personal meltdowns, she is forbidden from playing by her father, forced to get a job after school, and she’s grounded for what seems like life. As her life continues to spiral out of control, Gabby finds herself engaging in reckless, dangerous behavior. She is compelled to do the wrong thing, to make the wrong decisions, by the demons that are haunting her. One by one her friends abandon her, leaving her even more angry and isolated. When her Uncle Mike dies, everything comes to a screeching halt. He was the only one who understood her, and now that he’s gone, Gabby hates herself even more. Will anything save her from herself and the rage that threatens to consume her?
When I finished this book, I had one word to say – wow. I had such a hard time liking Gabby, because she is so unlikable. It wasn’t surprising that she was left friendless; she excelled at pushing everyone who cared for her as far away as possible. Her temper is out of control, and after a few too many flare ups, nobody wanted to be near her. What if she came unglued on them? Her unhappiness and self-loathing grew, page after agonizing page. Gabby sucked at everything except destroying her life and all of the relationships that meant anything to her, and it was very painful to read along as she self-destructed.
Gabby is a complete train wreck, and after her Uncle Mike dies, things only get worse. She starts hanging out with people who encourage her to do the wrong thing. She drinks at work, at home, and at school. She parties like a pro, but only ends up feeling even more miserable. With all of the stupid stuff she did, I am surprised she was able to survive from one drinking binge to the next. This girl was hurting so badly, yet nobody in her family was willing to see her misery. There wasn’t anybody for her to turn to for help, and that was heartbreaking. When she finally does go too far, it’s almost too late for her.
I’m not usually drawn to stories with suicidal teens because I find them depressing and difficult to read, but this book is told with so much heart that I couldn’t put it down. It’s a fast, powerful read with so much emotion stuffed into its short length. The ending is upbeat, probably too upbeat and not realistic, but I liked it. Gabby was in complete freefall, when finally, miraculously, she was able to grab onto some hope and finally start to like herself again.
Review copy provided by publisher