TITLE: Even if I Fall
AUTHOR: Abigail Johnson
RELEASED: January 8th, 2019; Inkyard Press
AGE RANGE: YA
The world has been a scary place for Brooke ever since her older brother—her hero—confessed to murdering his best friend a year ago. She’s tried so hard to stay under the radar and keep her family afloat, but how can she be strong when the murder victim’s younger brother suddenly appears in her life, and an unexpected bond forms despite the haunting past between their families?
I love a good, tragic romantic contemporary read, so when I saw the synopsis for Even if I Fall, I was like, yo, sign me up for some heartache and angst, and man, did I get what I asked for or what?
Jason was gone. My family was shattered. And dreams no longer fit into the nightmare we lived in.
Brooke, first of all, is such an easy character to empathize with and feel totally sorry for. Even though her brother is the alleged murderer in the situation, I think writing from Brooke’s POV was bold and paid off well, because it helps put you into this mindset where you can begin to imagine just how painful life would be for a good, decent human being who’s just watched their beloved family member do something evil and unspeakable—and it also pays a helpful reminder that we can’t judge people for what their family members have done, because blood relation doesn’t make them the same person.
I’ll have to smile the whole time and convince us that we’re going to be okay, that the next thirty years of once-a-week visits will be over before we know it, that watching the guards take him away afterward isn’t like having a piece of heart ripped from my chest.
Besides how much I enjoyed Brooke, the plot itself is really fascinating to watch unfold. I can’t say much without going into spoiler territory, but I will say that I didn’t expect some of the places Abigail Johnson took the story to, and I mean that in a good way—I was taken off guard in the best way and left with my jaw dropping like, “Did that really just happen?!” at one point.
I want, for just a moment, to reach for his hand, if only to hold on to someone else’s hurt so I don’t have to feel my own.
The last major thing I want to mention here isn’t even super relevant to the review, but I have to say it: Brooke’s best friend Maggie is such a precious little ball of sunshine and I loved her SO MUCH. She’s a plus-size biracial Korean/white girl who’s obsessed with makeup and fast cars, and no lie, I would’ve loved to have Maggie as my bestie as a teen (or now, for that matter!).
We keep trying not to hurt each other. But I did and he did. We are.
The only issue I had with Even if I Fall, and the reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of a solid, raving 5, is that the narrative style was a struggle for me sometimes. Overall it was well-done and showed a lot of potential, but there were definitely moments where the dialogue felt unnatural or was hard to follow due to the writing choices.
Overall, it’s not a perfect read, but it’s a delightfully captivating read that will make your heart ache and give you warm fuzzies over and over (usually in alternating order, because this book likes to ‘giveth and taketh away’ a lot). I enjoyed it tremendously and didn’t want to put it down, and I definitely would be interested in reading more from this author!
Readers who like tragic YA contemporary with a touch of romance, and can handle the tough topics discussed within.
Content warnings for descriptions of murder and violence, bullying, depression, grief
All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
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