Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

The breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

What happens to the girl left behind?

A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl left behind.

After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.

Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 14th 2017 by Simon & Schuster 
Genre: Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

** I received an advanced readers copy from Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!**

Although the title of this book is The Fall of Lisa Bellow, this book was not Lisa Bellow's story. This book was Meredith Oliver's story. Meredith was a typical eighth grade girl with typical eighth grade problems like where she sat on the popularity and pecking scale and how she could get changed without getting noticed. One thing Meredith did know for sure though, was that she did not like Lisa Bellow and her group of popular friends.

On her way home from school one afternoon, Meredith stopped to buy a drink and found herself in the same sandwich shop as Lisa. Shortly after, a man armed with a gun entered to rob the store. Meredith and Lisa found themselves face to face on the floor in a moment that would change both of their lives forever. The man left Meredith face down on the floor and took Lisa with him. This was Meredith's story. The story of the girl that was left behind.

I wasn't sure what I was expecting with this book but it wasn't what I got. Perhaps I thought that it would be a simple story but it was anything but. It was a dark and complex story of one girl and her family's struggle to come to terms with a traumatic event that shook all of them. It was the journey that family took in trying to navigate their new and difficult circumstance. Meredith may have been the "lucky" one but the aftermath was anything but.

A lot of this story was told from what the character's were thinking. It got inside their heads to weave the reader through the pages. It showed how both Meredith and her mother were coping with the incident in a deeper and more complex way because of it. At first I wasn't sure about this method but as I turned each page I became so deeply drawn to the characters and story that I feel like it is what really made the book what it was. In the end it was what I liked most about it.

I feel like this book is one that you really need to read in order to fully understand and that the less details given the better. There is no way that I could effectively convey the layers of this story and accurately describe the complexity. It would make for an excellent book club conversation.

This book was stunning and it is going to stick with me for quite a long time.

About the Author
Susan Perabo's novel, "The Fall of Lisa Bellow," will be released March 14, 2017. Perabo is also the author of two collections of short stories, "Why They Run the Way They Do" and "Who I Was Supposed to Be," and the novel, "The Broken Places." Her fiction has been anthologized in "Best American Short Stories," "Pushcart Prize Stories," and "New Stories from the South," and has appeared in numerous magazines, including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Sun. She is Writer in Residence and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

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