After The Fall by Kate Hart (328 pages)
Overview: Raychel's senior year did not go at all like she expected. Every time she thought she was finally winning, whether it be pulling her mother out of debt, finding security with her best friend, or finding a new love interest who really cares, something always goes terribly wrong. Raychel has to overcome all kinds of loss as her and her best friend, Matt's, story progresses. Overall: 3
Characters: 3 On a positive note, I love almost all of the characters in this story. Raychel makes for a very vivid narrator and brings the characters and experiences around her to life. The development of her story with her mother was beautiful, and Hart represented her economic hardship well. Raychel's best friends were also great additions to her part of the narrative. Finally, her voice made Matt's brother, Andrew, who develops a closer relationship with Raychel, come to life in a stunning three dimensions.
My problem with the book is Matt. He's been Raychel's friend forever, and he'd never thought they'd be anything more till "my hormones" this and "my hormones that". He can never own up to his feelings yet he acts ridiculously childish when Raychel seems interested in anyone else, especially his brother. While I see how this could be good inner conflict, just like everything told in Matt's voice, it falls flat. His only redeeming value in the story is given during a conversation that Raychel has about him with her friends about how he just doesn't understand that certain comments about women and people of other races or sexualities are sometimes insensitive and defiantly not okay, even though he doesn't mean anything bad by them. I appreciated that part because it highlights a common societal problem that many men from Matt's background have because of their narrow world view.
Plot: 3 Much like the dual POV, this book would have scored higher with me if it had ended when the "after the fall" segment started. Though the first part took a minute to get started, it became a totally enthralling story that I couldn't put down. I was ready to give the book at least 4.5 stars. It's hard to get into too much detail without spoilers, but, as you can probably guess from the title, someone falls off a cliff. The second part is the aftermath which I found entirely grey and repetitive. I know that Hart was trying to tell a story of grief in every shape, but the story got lost in what I think was an entirely needless death. The plot would have been stronger if the focus had remained on Raychel's healing and coming to terms with the abuse she had experienced, a beautifully executed plot line that was entirely missing in the second half.
Writing: 5 I feel like I read three different books with this novel. I read Raychel's heartbreaking, compelling story about her struggle with past sexual abuse, her new feelings for her best friends brother, and her precarious family and financial situation. That story earned five stars. Then there was The book in Matt's point of view which was entirely shapeless. He lacked any kind of a defining voice, and I wonder why he was so heavily featured. Then there is the second part of the narrative which plummeted my scoring of this book. I wish I had loved the ending because it honestly started so strong.
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