Falling into Place (2014)
By Amy Zhang
Amy Zhang’s Falling into Place is the fictitious story about Liz Emerson and her “last days” on Earth. Liz Emerson seems to have the “perfect life” as the popular girl in high school, but what is hidden within this fake persona is a depressed, lonely girl. Thus, she decides to commit suicide by staging a “car accident.” Through this novel, readers are left piecing together the reasons and causes for Liz Emerson’s suicide attempt.
I found the novel’s structure to be unique. The story is told through an unlikely narrator, Liz Emerson’s imaginary friend during childhood. One of the questions I had while reading was why use an imaginary friend as the narrator? Liz Emerson’s imaginary friend provides an omnipresent perspective on all the characters, in which the narrator can easily expose these characters’ faults to the readers. Furthermore, by just being Liz Emerson’s friend, this narrator adds sympathy to Liz’s case because the narrator provides information about Liz’s childhood, showing how pure and innocent she was before.
Like I mentioned before, I liked how the story is told in flashbacks and present-day events. Each chapter builds off one another, and creates a “bigger picture” which helps to answer the question, “Why did Liz Emerson commit suicide?” In addition, the narrative shows how the attempted suicide affected the lives of those around Liz Emerson.
During my reading, I questioned whether or not I, as a reader, should feel sorry for the protagonist, Liz Emerson. Each chapter provides a detailed account of all the bullying she has done. She did terrible things and mistreated people, but should that be a valid reason for her to die? If we say, “yes,” does that make us horrible people to think that? And if we say, “no,” what other punishment should she have for the sins she has committed? Through her novel, Amy Zhang does a great job bringing into light these types of questions to readers.
Falling into Place is an interesting novel, but it isn’t my cup of tea. Some people will love it, others may not. (On a side note, I thought of a song that fits appropriately for this book, which is Sia’s Chandelier.