The Fall of Lisa Bellow
by Susan Perabo
Publication Date: March 14th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Find This Book: The Fall of Lisa Bellow
Simon & Schuster send my University professor review copies and ARC’s in exchange for honest reviews and I was given a copy of this book by said professor for my blog (he wasn’t interested in the genre and he knew I would be).
My adventure with Meredith, her mom, and the Lisa of Meredith’s imagination has come to a close and I’m still not quite sure what I think. It was very cool to read a book without any action in it. By that I mean the baseball injury happened before the events of the story and the kidnapping/robbery were told by the girl who wasn’t kidnapped. Of course there was drama in the wake of this tragedy, but the ‘action’ of being kidnapped, of being locked in the bathroom, were all the imagination of Meredith the girl who survived. It was more of a psychologically cool book with Meredith’s thoughts, her interactions with the rest of the eight grade class, Lisa’s lonely mother, and the morbid thoughts of Meredith’s mom.
One thing I wasn’t a fan of was the incessant, unnecessary slut shaming coming from all perspectives. I can maybe understand it coming from the ignorant perspective of an eighth-grader, but from her mother too? Obviously people aren’t perfect and characters should be flawed, but this was problematic to the point of being extremely uncomfortable to read. I’m already reading about a girl getting kidnapped and presumably raped, that’s the sort of uncomfortableness I signed up for with picking up this novel. The loneliness of Lisa’s mother only cranked up the uncomfortable vibes form this book. The unnecessary slut shaming from a mother who should know better was going too far for me and that alone took away a star.
Claire (Meredith’s mother) was also incredibly morbid and pessimistic throughout the whole book. I get not being smiley and cheerful, but I really can’t understand her mental state of her children being gone and giving up on them when they are still living in her house and are clearly struggling. That’s when families support each other, like with the husband trying to help the son get back into baseball after his surgeries. Clearly the kid won’t be getting any athletic scholarships, but if he wants to try to play baseball again with his buddies, for a club, or for the high school team again, let him try and discover failure on his own if it comes down to that. She was also super judgmental about Meredith’s choice of friends which I thought was weird?
One thing I really enjoyed was how the novel ended. Meredith brought a sort of finality to it, but also one of starting over- without Lisa. I just assumed that the story was going to go through how horrible the experience was and then last minute Lisa would be found (dead or alive but I assumed alive). Instead we got this incredible realistic, sad but realistic, ending where Lisa stays missing. She disappears from the news and she will probably never be found. The book discusses how the miracles are always the ones talked about, the girls found years after everyone had given up hope. It was eye-opening to be given a story without that hope and acknowledging that grief and movement towards closer was also ok.
All in all this book had two things I found largely problematic, as delineated above, but it also gave me a new perspective and was pretty well-written. If the slut-shaming and troubling mother's behavior/thoughts don’t bother you, then I would definitely recommend this book!