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?
Anna Cruise is a very talented writer. She wowed me with her debut novel, It Was You last month, review here, mostly because of her clean writing style, whimsical portrayal of San Diego, and her ability to capture emotions in clear and concise sentences.
In If I Fall, she takes this up like a hundred notches. We’re still in San Diego, we’re still dealing with teen angst, but this book is so real and powerful you will not only be gasping out loud, but you will not be able to put it down.
The book opens with a totally gut-wrenching scene—Meg’s parents have divorced. She’s at her house, the house where her father used to live, watching him gather up his remaining belongings while his new wife waits in the car.
He says goodbye.
And it feels like forever. Something very, very final.
And it’s not just her age that lends her to believe that, I got the same feeling. When you’re watching your dad ride off with a beautiful woman while your broken mother wastes away in bed, thoroughly depressed, that is nasty and real.
That weekend, unable to bring herself to go home to the half empty house, she stays out on the beach after her friends leave and bumps into a guy she sorta knows from school, but who does not hang out in her crowd.
Meg is a good girl.
Aiden is one hundred percent bad boy.
Meg is a virgin.
I doubt Aiden knows the meaning of the word.
Meg has never gone to third base with a guy.
Aiden tries to take her home that very night. Literally. In both ways.
Meg doesn’t even smoke cigarettes, let alone do drugs.
Until she meets Aiden, that is.
And this is where Meg’s life begins to unravel, except she’s not quite sure it’s even happening. All she knows is that her mom’s in a full-on depression. Not the kind that makes you sad, the kind that prevents you from getting out of bed. Her dad is gone and no one seems to be around when she’s got big choices to make.
So…she makes them based on Aiden’s influence.
Drugs, alcohol, lying, sex, unprotected sex, possibly even forcible sex, failing grades, lost friends, and many, many heartbreaking dramatic and even dangerous moments occur in Meg’s life while all the grownups in the room go about their own newly depressing or newly exciting lives.
No one is even paying attention to this girl. No one is even there to tell her it’s wrong.
If I Fall is a brutally honest look at what being a teenager is really like for a lot of girls. You read about these bad boys, but they’re all warm and fuzzy on the inside, they’re not really bad boys, they’re good boys who look like bad boys.
This is a prevailing concept in YA and NA literature these days and Anna Cruise takes that bogus fantasy and paints a giant L across said bad boy’s forehead.
Sure we like to swoon over them in books, and some of us (cough) might even like to take them for a spin in real life, but bad boys are called bad for a reason. And this book tells it like it is.
Don’t get me wrong, Meg is totally on board. One hundred percent on board with all of it. All. Of. It. She does things in the back seat of a car that will make you cringe. She loses her virginity in a scene that will have you sitting up asking what the fuck just happened?
This book is real and I’m giving it five stars for not glorifying drugs, or smoking, or late nights with hot bad boys on the beach. This book is about bad parents as well, and for most of this book it looks like she’s gonna fall through the cracks.
But Meg, although sad, and lonely, and confused, and aching for someone to love her—is not stupid. She is a strong heroine and she figures it out with the help of one relative who sees what’s happening.
But by that time one very bad boy has already claimed her as his own.
Like I said…real life.
Anna Cruise has been writing and drooling over boys since middle school. Lots of years have passed but some things never change…
IT WAS YOU is her debut novel. She is currently at work on two Young Adult novels and two additional New Adult titles (including Tana’s story!)