The Girl Who Fell is a very suspenseful YA psychological thriller that had me turning pages even as I wanted to put it down to avoid the inevitable nightmare that the prologue promised me. It reminded me quite a bit of the teen screen thrillers of the 90’s – True Crime with Alicia Silverstone in particular. I enjoyed it, and I thought it was a compelling way to introduce the topic of dating violence without getting preachy. I gave it four stars.
Zephyr is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.
But love has a way of changing things.
Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.
Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and … terrifying?
But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.
So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.
If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
This book made it very clear how a perfectly normal person could find themselves cornered into a controlling relationship. Zephyr, the protagonist and narrator, has vulnerabilities that make her a target, but she isn’t some shrinking violet who lets others take charge of her life, and she still finds herself in this situation. And, after reading about how the relationship evolved, I can’t honestly say I wouldn’t have fallen into the same trap myself. It’s easy to see people in relationships with abusers as weak and easy prey, but this book puts the scenario into perspective. I think this book could be an important voice for YA readers because, while it is packaged as an escape read, there is truth to be learned about dating violence, psychological abuse, and the shame that keeps this topic from being discussed. The plot is seamless, the suspense grows gently to develop the creeping horror, and the character voices feel real. I will say that the plot veered a little towards the extreme at the end of the book, but I didn’t doubt that the characters were capable of the actions, so while it is certainly a dramatic ending, anything less would have been a disappointment. I think adult readers would have a hard time saying this wasn’t as engaging as an adult book of the genre. Some language and several scenes of sensuality make this book most appropriate for older YA readers – grades 10+ at least.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.