Tuesday, April 16, 2013

If I Fall by Anna Cruise

If I Fall by Anna Cruise on Goodreads
If I Fall on Amazon
Meg Calloway is at the edge.

Reeling from her parents' sudden divorce, fifteen-year old Meg has never felt more alone. Her father is about to marry a woman she can't stand and her mother's only companion is an endless supply of alcohol. When Aidan Westwood, an older boy at school, shows interest in her, she grabs on and doesn't let go, thinking he's exactly what she needs to help stem her loneliness and despair. She quickly learns that Aidan lives a darker, more dangerous life than she does and the more isolated she feels from her family, the more willing she is to step into Aidan's world.

As Meg drifts further from her friends, she tries to find comfort with a boy who is opening her eyes up to new things, none of them good. Will she listen to those around her who are warning her that she's headed down a path of self-destruction?

Or will she fall too far...too fast...too deep?

I'd highly recommend that all teenage girls read this gritty portrayal of the dark sides of growing up. This is not a traditional YA love story. Look, we all love our fictional bad boys, but it's important that there are also stories out there that can show a bad boy for what he can be... a true loser. This isn't a story filled with romantic walks on the beach, while reforming the bad boy to be good enough for the good girl. This story is a dark, disturbing tale that moves in the opposite direction. Ms. Cruise describes just how easily the good girl can be brought down, and how difficult it is to rise against.

I'd fallen. Fallen hard. But not so far that I couldn't pick myself up.

Fifteen year old Meg Calloway's life has just been turned upside down. Her father's left the family for a younger woman. Her mother, in turn, has found solace only at the bottom of a bottle, falling into a depression so consuming that she can barely leave the house, let alone be any sort of mother to Meg.

After a night out with friends, Meg's not ready to return to the desolate place she once called home.

My thoughts drifted to what I knew waited for me at home. I thrived to think of something else but I couldn't. The memories sucked me back in. I couldn't go back there, to that suffocating place that reeked of misery, that threatened to swallowed me whole.

Instead, she strolls down the beach until she comes across a group of seniors from her high school. Amongst them is Aidan, a charming, attractive, charismatic older boy who's instantly taken by Meg. Aidan quickly becomes an easy escape from Meg's less than desirable home life. Unfortunately, sweet, charming Aidan is the very definition of a wolf in sheep's clothing. As he leads Meg down a dark rabbit hole of drugs, alcohol, and sex, she begins to lose not only her friends, but herself.

You're never smiling. It would be one thing if you looked happy when you are with him. But every time I see you? You don't look very happy.

Despite her friends warnings and concern, Meg can't help being pulled further into Aidan's world of lies and deceit. Those close to her no longer recognize her as they attempt to make her see Aidan for who he really is, but she's resistant to their efforts.

I think I just wanted some attention. I was tired of being alone and feeling hurt all the time. And, with him, I didn't hurt anymore.

How far will she have to fall before it's late, and who, if anyone, will be there to catch her?

If I Fall was a very compelling story that showcases the effects that divorce can have on young teenagers, and highlights the dark path of peer pressure that they can easily fall into by means of escape. Ms. Cruise wrote a chilling portrayal on how easily young, impressionable teen girls can fall in with the wrong crowd when it seems as if everyone else in your life has give up on you. At the same time, it's also a story about strength, and overcoming the loss and loneliness that life can bestow upon us. It's a story about not giving up on those close to you, no matter how damaged they may become. This is a story about falling...and finding a way to stand back up.

*ARC provided by Ms. Cruise in exchange for an honest review.

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