“They were catalysts, the fingers that tipped the first domino. They started things that grew into nothing things that were much greater than themselves. A touch, a nudge in the wrong direction, and everyone fell down.”
Usually when you read a novel that’s about suicide, the character is the victim of bullying. But Liz Emerson and her friends, Julia and Kennie, are the mean girls at the top of their class. Liz Emerson is the bully. In the novel she uses her physics project as a way of explaining her suicide plan. She thinks that once she started bullying people she became an object in motion, and an object in motion stays in motion, so there’s nothing to stop Liz from continuing to hurt others no matter how much she hates herself for doing it.
Liz’s character is hard to sympathize with, but I think that’s part of the point. She is a “mean girl” and a bully, but as Liam continuously points out she is plagued with her own problems. It doesn’t excuse her actions, but it does lead to forgiveness.
The narration of the novel, while creative, did little to move the story. I actually think that the narration hindered the story as it didn’t allow the characters to show through as much as a traditional narration would have allowed.
When the blurb says the story is written in “nonlinear” fashion, it really means nonlinear. The chapters skip from just before Liz’s wreck, to when she was a child, to after the wreck at the hospital, to weeks before the wreck and every time between. It’s not hard to keep up with the story, though, and details are given at appropriate times in the story.
Overall, this was a nice debut novel and there’s sure to be more great novels from Zhang in the future, but Falling into Place was a little short on emotion for the topics it touched on and needed to dig deeper into the lives of the characters to be a really great novel.