Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: abuse, stalker ex-boyfriends, hospitalization, bad home life
Format read: ARC from Simon & Schuester at ALA (Thank you!)
Summary: Over a six month period, we see Rae’s life unravel as her step-father loses his job and becomes more abusive and her relationship with Nathan ends and he becomes more possessive.
If you think back to your high school days, was there ever a time when it seemed everyone around you had a boyfriend but you? That’s kind of how Rae feels. She’s not sure she’s relationship material because she’s super picky. Then one magical day, a new boy (Nathan) appears at her school and he’s immediately interested — blatantly staring at her, making sure she knows he’s interested.
While Rae would like to take things a bit slower, her best friends encourage her to take the risk and go for it with Nathan. What her friends don’t know is how badly Rae wants to be loved, how dire her home life is, and how easy it is for her to fall under Nathan’s spell. Her mom is married to a scumbag of a guy because he promised her a better life (that, unfortunately, will likely never come to fruition). He gets fired from his low-paying job and forces Rae to relinquish nearly all of her wages from her job at the floral shop to “help the family stay afloat” (aka: hand over money for his alcoholic ways).
Nathan quickly begins pressuring Rae for more than just make-out sessions. She would rather build a relationship on something more than the physical. When their relationship falls apart, she feels free of Nathan’s constant watchful eye. She finds solace in her job and her newfound friendship with Leo, the boy who works at the coffee bistro next door (…and is easygoing and happy, makes silly movies, and takes Rae on unexpected adventures). Nathan begins showing up in random places, stalking her, and becomes more possessive and threatening.
Falling For You begins in present day where we see that Rae is in the hospital, not doing very well. The exact details of what happened to her are unknown, but we rewind six months to the beginning of Rae’s relationship with Nathan and her step-dad’s downward spiral. The big question is What happened to Rae? There’s lots of speculation on behalf of the reader, but the real heart of the story is seeing Rae’s life, both the highs and the lows, unfold.
For those of you that loved The Day Before (written entirely in verse), don’t fret. Schroeder incorporates poetry through Rae’s personal diary entries and her anonymous submissions to the school’s newspaper. Through the poetry, we’re opened up to a side of Rae that she shares with no one — she is raw and honest, holding nothing back. This was a lovely incorporation that opened my eyes to how necessary writing is for some people as an outlet when they feel they’re all alone in the world.
Full of charming imagery with awesome I-want-to-know-you-in-real-life-characters (I dare you not to love her boss and co-workers!), Schroeder’s Falling For You will make you want to open up your guest bedroom for Rae to give her a safe, loving place to live. You’ll be eager to get to the end of the story to find out what happened to her, but hesitant to finish the story because you won’t want to leave Leo behind.