The Fall of Lisa Bellow is a suspense novel about what happens when a popular teenger is being abducted. Usually, I’m not waiting for every suspense/thriller to be published – I guess it has something to do with current trend, starting probably with Gone Girl. However, what caught my attention here, were teenage characters and family relationships undergoing hardest tests and asking themselves important questions; Where is Lisa? What is happening with Meredith? What is the truth and how do they really want it to look like?
The Fall of Lisa Bellow is narrated by two characters; Meredith and Claire Oliver. Meredith’s part is based on a horrifying experience in a local sandwich store, where she has witnessed an armed robbery and an abduction of Lisa Bellow, one of her loved/hated schoolmates. She is going through trauma related to this event, and her life is turned upside down. Claire is mother of Meredith, and her part is mostly reflecting about the state of her family, relationships with her husband Mark, her kids who, being in their teenage years, have many additional pressures on their social stands. The family theme is therefore considerably big part of The Fall of Lisa Bellow, especially after her family comes into the picture. Susan integrated many elements of our society, which are considered rather taboo, and it turned out perfectly. All characters, as different as they can possibly be, are important important testimonies of the state of our society.
Another very important part of this book is a portrayal of society and its rules within middle school. For every one thriving, popular teenager, there seem to be at least five students viewed as nerds, outcasts or simply ‘too boring to be cool’. All this social hierarchy has of course wide consequences even outside of school, especially in small towns. That being said, Susan explores both ends, starting from average kids trying to find their crew and maybe be a little bit cooler, to famous ‘slutty mean girls’. I appreciated that Susan avoided well spread attitude towards slut shaming, and instead offered reflection on the fact, that judging a person does not define who they are, rather than it defines who we are.
Last thing I wanted to point out is both Meredith’s and Evan’s personal tragedies. More often than not, we tend to forget even younger generations are experiencing very hard time in their life, and we, as onlookers, aren’t exactly used to deal with them. Somewhere deep down we still want to believe that bad things should happen only to bad people (what does it even mean, really). For all of this and more, I appreciate that Susan included also this element, making her work stand out more.
Before I started The Fall of Lisa Bellow I was somehow ready for a story similar to Gone Girl. As it came out, it wasn’t the case. This novel is much more complex – it offers various stories from different point of views, therefore it’s easier to make an overall picture. Who has which personality, what causes tension among family members and so on. Plus points for the chosen name of this novel, I love it, minus points for the ending, which I expected to be revealing more than it does. In general, I think it’s safe to say such book could, and maybe even should, be read also by youngsters. The story is violence free, but can create deeper understanding of society they may find themselves in.
Although the publication date is set for March 14th 2017, The Fall of Lisa Bellow is already available for preorder now.
Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.