No Place to Fall
By Jaye Robin Brown
Expected publication December 9, 2014 by HarperTeen
Amber feels bigger than her small town when she sings. When she hears about a special arts high school in the city, she decides to audition. Practicing with her best friend's older brother gets complicated and before long, Amber is making some questionable decisions. Will she be able to get everything she wants?
I downloaded the e-galley of this because I thought it had potential to be a fun contemporary realistic fiction. Unfortunately, I was mostly disappointed with this book.
For starters, this book feels very disjointed. The first few chapters focus on the end of summer and Amber's encounters at the hiker barn. Then, rather abruptly, the story switches to the start of the school year and Amber's actual life. The chapters are short, which makes this a quick read, but nothing flows very well and I just don't think it's well-written. As a whole, the book feels underdeveloped. Amber, the main character, feels pretty cookie-cutter, as do most of the other characters in the book. The setting doesn't really fare much better - it reads like generic South and not much more. And the plot is perhaps overdeveloped - there's a lot crammed into the book and none of it is fleshed out as much as I'd like. It seems like Brown wanted to tell several different stories and threw them all together here, but none of them are as successful as they could have been.
Additionally, there were some things in this book that just made me uncomfortable. The one that sticks most in my mind is within the first few pages when the main character describes someone as "Indian. Red dot, not feather." And that's it. I'm sorry, but that just isn't acceptable. Amber's feelings about her own sexuality are also confusing, which, yes, is realistic but also frustrating - it's going to send a confusing message to the teen girls who read it. I also had significant problems with the ending - everything works out just fine, which is not realistic at all, particularly not for the situations in this book.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.