Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

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It took me some time to finish the book and by some time I mean around two weeks. Not because the book is not good, it’s actually the opposite, but because I have other things to attend to.

Falling into Place is a really good book. Somehow it really pulled me in. I find my heart aching for Liz Emerson. There’s this rawness and pureness that I felt which I couldn’t really explain. I’m not fond of stories told in a 3rd person point of view but the way the novel was told; it seems that the 3rd person fit it well.

The story’s about the struggles in life of Liz Emerson, a popular and bitchy student of Meridian High. Well, maybe not really bitchy bitchy. She’s just apathetic and indifferent that she’s being a bitch even if she doesn’t intend to. It’s the story of how she struggles to find meaning in her life and a reason to go on. It’s a story of how she lost hope in anything and everything, blaming everything on herself, thus deciding that the world would be a better place without her. It’s a story of her accident-disguised suicide and how it affected the people around her and her relationships.

If we’re gonna take a look at it, on the surface, Liz Emerson is the typical popular bitch in a high school setting. You’re either gonna love her or hate her. You can’t help but to notice her even if you don’t want to. You can’t help but admire her and wish to be her even if you despise her. However, the book shows us that even with all the reputation surrounding her, even with all the admiration and looks, she’s broken just like everybody else. She unknowingly is the way she is because she just is.

The book also took the story telling in analogy with Newton’s laws of motion. And even though I really didn’t grasp fully how the laws connect to the story, I find them endearing and essential. Newton’s first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion unless acted upon by an external force. In relation to the book, this may have applied to Meridian wherein Liz Emerson is the force. Life at Meridian might have stayed the same for its residents if not for Liz Emerson’s coming. It may also apply to the strained relationship between Liz and her mother as well as Julia’s and Kennie’s. It may have applied to Liam’s secret affection for Liz Emerson wherein nothing’s changing since he’s not acting on it. Basically, this first law can be applied to each and everyone’s lives.

“NOTHING WILL CHANGE UNLESS YOU DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.”

Whether it’s for the worse or the best is a different matter.

Newton’s second law of motion states that the force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration (F=ma).  Gossip is what first comes to mind relating to the story. The force or the impact of gossip or rumor depends on the importance (mass) and how fast it travels. When the news of Liz’s car crashed spread, the impact was huge. She was after all Liz Emerson.

The third law of motion of Newton is the most famous in my opinion. It states that there is for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Being the bitch that she is, Liz Emerson has done a lot of stupid things in her life that affected the people around her – from the side girl of his on-and-off boyfriend, to the ‘unpopular’ kids of the school, to people who hurt her friends, to Liam. And she was wondering why no one got back to her given Newton’s third law. Why did no one take revenge? But she thought wrong. She maybe expecting the ‘same’ thing to get back at her – the rumor that she spread, the vandalism she did. Little did she know that life has a funny way of getting back at all for all her wrong doings. The silence that she’s experiencing, the distant mother, the guilt, all these are the repercussions of her actions.

I really appreciate the 3rd person POV of the story and when it was revealed that the story teller is Liz’s old self, the childhood one she has lost, the one she has forgotten, the one she doesn’t remember, it made me love the novel all the more.

Suicide is not a laughing matter and it can affect ANYONE. There’s a lot going on in a person’s mind even if it doesn’t show on the outside. People are always trying to find at least just one thing, one thing to hold onto. To make living bearable, to make living this hell of a life worth it. But when’s all hope is lost, and you give up trying to hold onto anything, that’s when everything sinks in. And maybe, just maybe, we only need a few words, a few gestures, maybe just one person for us to get our acts together and for everything to fall into place.

The book shows us that maybe, just maybe, it is when we thought everything’s over and we gave up all hope that everything will finally fall into place.

Falling into Place is a novel I’d recommend and I’ll be looking forward to more of Amy Zhang’s stories.

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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Hi! I’m back! 🙂

Without Merit is the latest book by Colleen Hoover which was just recently released. I was excited and had been waiting for this book ever since I got to binge read Colleen Hoover’s books a couple of months back since I really liked most of what I have read. However, maybe the excitement and build up was too much as I did not enjoy the book as much as I thought I would.

Don’t get me wrong, the book is still good. I prolly just expected more. Plus it’s short. Without Merit is kinda like a deviation from the usual build up that is seen in Colleen Hoover’s previous books. Everything was laid out in the first few chapters of the story. Each character introduced.

Without Merit is about the crazy, weird Voss family who lives in a refurbished church which they call Dollar Voss. The story centers on Merit Voss who collects trophies she did not earn to relieve stress, and to keep up with all the secret of her family that she is keeping. And when her failed attempt to end it all, to leave everything WITHOUT MERIT, leaving a note with all the secrets, she now have to face the consequences of her action and try to keep the one boy that she loves.

The Voss family is one of the craziest, weirdest family I have read so far in my entire YA reading career. From the head of the house, his ex-wife, current wife, to the eldest child, twins (Honor and Merit), and the youngest, coupled with the current wife’s younger brother, and the unrelated boy who’s love interest of Merit, they all are weird and are full of secrets. The fact that they live in a refurbished church with the image of Jesus still in tact is weird enough. But knowing that the father, ex-wife, wife, and all the kids are living together makes it even weirder.

Without Merit is a short read, jam-packed with crazy characters, each with a lot of baggage to deal with. Like her other novels, Without Merit makes you ponder and think about the greater issue that is incorporated in the novel. The underlying themes this time is depression.

The characters are each given just enough time to know what’s their secret and the reason behind. The father’s reason for buying the church and living with his ex- and current wife. Utah, the oldest brother’s reason why he kissed Merit when they were younger which had been the start of the discord in their relationship. Honor, Merit’s identical twin sister, and why she only kinda goes for guys who are almost at the end of their lives. Luke, the current wife’s younger brother, and why he suddenly turn up into their doorsteps and why he had sex with Utah. Sagan, the love interest of Merit, and why he always drops everything when somebody calls him.

Maybe I expected for Merit’s story to be more fleshed out. Maybe I expected to understand why she was depressed, although she fails to recognize it. I know that being the talk of the town for having a crazy family can be overwhelming and having to bottle up a lot of things, especially heavy secrets, since young, can take a toll on one’s mental health. However, I could not relate to Merit and her struggle with all the secrets she keep. It’s like I want to scream at her “Why not just open up? Why not talk to someone?” But maybe this is where the problem with depression, from an outside perspective, the solution might be so easy but for someone experiencing it, easy things might be a luxury. It’s like I want to know more, understand more, but the book is already ending.

On the other side, the book shows how each one of us is struggling in one way or the other. We can never really judge the actions of another person unless we know the full story behind it. Even the most ridiculous action might have a sensible reason behind. So don’t judge things and don’t hold prejudice before knowing everything. And maybe, just maybe, open communication is just what we need to overcome our baggage. When all the Voss’ secrets were laid out in the open, it started the healing process. Readers will be able to make sense of the actions of the characters and Merit’s relationship with her unconventional family also got better. The reason? They were able to talk.

Still, Without Merit shows Colleen Hoover’s prowess in delivering a story that will tug at your heartstrings. The underlying theme might be heavier than her previous ones but it was told in a manner that’s enough for me to stop and think about but not really pierce deeper unlike the others. Nevertheless, it’s still a book to be recommended.