Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Greenwillow/Harper Teen ARC Review & Interview: Falling Into Place (Amy Zhang)

Falling into PlaceHardback, 304 pages
Expected publication: September 9th 2014 by Greenwillow Books

ARC Provided by Publisher in Exchange for an Honest Review
On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher. 

Amy Zhang
Amy Zhang used to have lots of imaginary friends. When people told her to grow up, she turned her imaginary friends into characters and started telling their stories. When she isn't writing, she can be found playing piano, hitting balls on the tennis court, or struggling through her weekly existential crisis. She lives in Wisconsin with her family.

What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

The book actually started as two short stories: one about a girl who outlined her suicide in terms of Newton’s laws of motion, and one about growing up, told from the point of an unknown narrator. I also drew things from my own high school experience: the things that made me happy, the things that made me unhappy, the things I felt powerless to change. Most of all, I think I wanted to write Falling because I wanted a voice. In a lot of ways, it’s a diary with a plot—I used it to work through a lot of opinions and discover new ones.

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Probably Kennie. I remember that one of my early readers told me that he thought Kennie was the most annoying out of the three main characters, and I was so indignant because Kennie was the character I identified with most. Julia was the person I wanted to be, Liz was the person I was afraid of being, and Kennie, at least emotionally, was me—sort of always a step behind, clueless more often than not, desperate to grow up with no idea how.

Which came first, the title or the novel?

I actually went through a few title changes with my editor, so the novel came way before the title. The original title, For Every Life, came before the novel, though, since it was the title of one of the short stories.

What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I’d say Chapter Seventy-Seven. No spoilers, but I think that might be my favorite scene. I’m also very proud of the ending—I knew how I wanted to write it very early on in the process, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

You’ve got to have thick skin. Like, dragon skin. You hear that from the beginning, but it took me a while to realize just how necessary that is. The rejection never ends—someone is always going to dislike your work, and you have to accept that.

What do you like most about the cover of the book?

Can I say everything? I can’t stop looking at it. It’s so beautiful, and I think it fits the book just perfectly. I love the car and the hand and the physics equations in the background. I couldn’t imagine a better cover. I owe my cover designer everything.

What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2014?

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson, which comes out on September 30th. I got an ARC and stayed up all night to read it. It’s just a beautiful book. The writing is gorgeous and the story is heartbreaking.

What was your favorite book in 2013?

Oh, that’s tough. I’d probably have to with either Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick or This Song Will Save Your Life, by Leila Sales. They were both definitely life-changing books. This Song Will Save Your Life was one of the truest depictions of bullying and high school that I’ve ever read.

What’s up next for you?

I’m working a book tentatively titled This is Where the World Ends right now, which is about a boy who’s obsessed with apocalypses and a girl whose goal in life is to make the entire world fall in love with her. There’s spray paint and a coffee shop full of origami cranes and wings made out of dictionaries, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Is there anything that you would like to add?

Find a passion and spend your whole life fighting for it. Allow yourself to be terrible. Everyone makes mistakes. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t ever give up.

"Sitting on the brown couch, she had imagined her death like this:
She veers off the road and down the hill. Her car slides, spins a few times. She hits her head and is gone. Her body is mostly whole when they find it. They'll take out her organs, and her dead body will be more useful than her living one ever was.
It did not happen like that...."

This book was so emotionally gripping and just a roller-coaster ride of teen experiences. It is a dark, complex, heart-breaking, and yet unbelievably powerful debut novel.  Liz Emerson faces so many issues beginning at childhood all the way through her teen years. She goes through so many unspeakable issues that a young girl should never have to face. 

Liz's character is basically the "mean" girl of the school and a bully and it was really hard to try and make myself like her character. Liz is poison to everyone around her and really doesn't care if she has any friends at all. 

"Some people died because the world did not deserve them.
Liz Emerson, on the other hand, did not deserve the world."

Falling Into Place is a young adult novel that deals with each and every aspect that a teen could possibly go through while growing up. It deals with bullying, depression, suicide, rape, drugs, sex, and alcohol and shows the consequences of each of these and how they affect the teen and the loved ones around them. 

"I watched her carve her mistakes in stone, and they arranged themselves around her. They became a maze with walls that reached the sky. Because she learned from so few of them, she was lost. Because she didn't have faith in anything, she didn't try to find a way out.
I watched her try to face her fears alone, too proud to as for help, too stubborn to admit she was afraid, too small to fight them, too tired to fly away. "

The story is told from several different points of view so you get to see the reactions of different people and how they perceive what is happening around them. I really liked this book and feel like every teen should read this so that they get somewhat of a good view of what can happen when you make bad decisions in life. The fact that this book was written by a young teen girl is just phenomenal. Amy Zhang has a deep understanding of the lives of teens and I feel like she could really make a difference in the future of teens once they have read her amazing debut novel. 

**The quotes from this book have been taken from an Advanced Reading Copy and are subject to change when the final book is printed. Please refer to the final, finished copy for exact quotes!**

**I want to say Thank You to Greenwillow/HarperTeen for the opportunity to review this book!!**

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