Monday, August 17, 2009

Falling For Laura Moriarty

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Things are not going well for Veronica Van Holten. For starters, she hates her job. It's bad enough that she's a junior and still living in the dorms, but as a resident assistant, she's in charge of controlling the drama on her floor. She doesn't have time for her neighbors, she has no car, she's barely keeping up in her pre-med classes, and she's devastated over her parents' impending divorce. Veronica does have a very nice boyfriend, which is wonderful until he asks her for a little more commitment. Now, she's freaking out. While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty is Veronica's coming-of-age story. It's also a novel about family, about mothers and daughters, and about how to cope when one's life is falling apart at the seams.

For our heroine, everything collides one fateful morning on a deserted highway, leaving her shaken. Her cries for help prove just how much her family has disintegrated. Veronica's frayed nerves lead to a string of remarkably bad decisions, landing her in a heap of trouble. Then, just when she needs her mother, who's always been her biggest support system, Natalie Van Holten shows up at her daughter's dorm - with an overnight bag, an arthritic dog and all of her worldly belongings sitting in a minivan in the parking lot. Can things possibly get any worse? This is Veronica Van Holten we're talking about - of course they can. And they do. Along the way, she has to figure out how to pick up the pieces of her broken family life, her fledgling future, but most of all, herself.

Veronica's crises aren't exactly original, and neither is she for that matter, but you know what? It doesn't matter. She's authentic, so real that my heart ached for her. Physically. I was so engrossed in her story that I felt actual dread balling up in my chest. I had to keep telling myself, "It's only a book. It's not real." That's how strongly I identified with her. The thing that drew me to her, I think, is the following passage. I'm pretty sure I've had this conversation before:

Jimmy Liff had actually looked me in the eye and explained that I was simply the most boring person he knew. "I don't mean you're like, boring to talk to. I mean you seem boring in a good way. In a way that would be good for my plants and my car. You don't even smoke, do you?" (34)

I guess what I like about Veronica is that she's a good girl, but she's also funny and real. Kind of like me - minus the funny part.

Although Moriarty's written two other books, this is the only one I've read. Believe me, I'll be remedying that real soon. If While I'm Falling is any indication, the author creates everyday plots with surprising curves; believable, but interesting characters; and well-plotted, well-written novels. Although this one is a mite bit despressing, it turns into a hopeful, empowering story. It's just a good read all around. My one complaint is the copyediting - it wasn't horrible, but there were enough typos to be distracting. Otherwise, I really, really liked this one.

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language and sexual content (more inferred than described)

4 comments:

  1. Got this one from the library today, gotta start reading it!

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  2. This looks terrific! Another one for my TBR list.

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  3. Oh man, I'm such a sucker for coming of age stories. This one sounds right up my alley.

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  4. Ok skip The Rest of Her Life and go to The Center of Everything. The Center of Everything is excellent and Rest of Her Life was such a disappointment.

    I almost bought this yesterday but give my experience with Rest of Her Life I decided not to.

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