Friday, April 15, 2016

Where We Fall by Rochelle B. Weinstein

Though clinical depression is often the subject of memoirs and autobiographies, I have very rarely read fictional stories with depressed main characters.  This is what stands out the most to me after reading Where We Fall by Rochelle B. Weinstein.  The sensitive portrayal of a woman emotionally out of control forms the center of this examination of marriage, parenthood, and personal development.

            Abby Holden should be happy.  Her daughter is a high school student, and her husband, Ryan, is a much beloved high school football coach.  She lives in a lovely home and it seems as though everything is going well.  But the truth is that Abby has trouble getting out of bed.  She cannot be a proper parent to her daughter, Juliana, who seeks support from her father, Ryan, instead.  Though Abby has always felt this pull to depression, it is an outrageous act of betrayal that is at the forefront of her mind.

            Lauren and Abby were inseparable in college.  When Lauren began dating Ryan, Abby seemed to be part of the package.   Awkward and fragile, Abby clings to her friends and finds acceptance with them.  As the transition from college to adulthood looms, it is clear that free-spirited Lauren needs more than just the small town life to which she is accustomed.  Promises are made and plans are set.  But, when circumstances intervene, it is Lauren who is at the mercy of the decisions of those she loves best.

            After a seventeen-year absence, Lauren returns to the mountains that she loves.  This return will put her right in the path of Ryan and Abby.  Will she have the courage to face the fallout from long ago events or will she run back into the new life she has created for herself?

            Where We Fall is written from several points of view:  Abby, Lauren, Ryan, and Juliana.  I am not sure how effective this was for me as a reader.  I agree that we needed Abby and Laura’s perspective, but I think that Juliana’s subplot was a bit too much for the story.  The focus on Juliana’s boyfriend and his hardscrabble life took away from the main narrative and dulled the focus of the story.  In addition, I would have liked to see a more convincing relationship between Abby and Ryan.  It seemed so unlikely that the two of them ever got together in the first place, so I was never really rooting for them to succeed.  The motivations of the characters did not ring true to me.

            I did appreciate that Abby’s character was a realistic picture of depression.  She was not a black and white character, and I appreciated that she did not behave in an over-the-top manner.  It was a sensitive portrayal.  

            I sensed the ending a mile away, but I think that is the only ending that Where We Fall could have had to make sense.  Unfortunately, it seemed contrived and not as authentic as it should have been.  It did not ring true or realistic for me.

            Where We Fall gets high points for its portrayal of character, but the plot did not do it for me.  It was an easy read, and one that many people would enjoy.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Regina

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The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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