No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown (website | twitter)
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Publisher: Harper Teen
Target Audience: Young Adult Fiction
Keywords: growing up in a small town, auditioning for an art school, family drama
Format Read: ARC received from the Publisher. (Thank you!)
Summary: Amber’s dreams are bigger than her small town; as she slowly lets go of her fear of singing in front of people, she decides auditioning for an arts school might be the answer to getting her away from her cheating father, drug-dealing brother-in-law, and help her move on.
>> Everybody knows everybody.
>> When you do something out-of-character your parents will be told before you can figure out how to bring it up.
>> It can be frowned upon when you so desperately want to escape.
>> Life can feel stifling when you have big dreams, but feel you don’t have the means to achieve them.
Amber Vaughn knows this better than anyone. She wants to escape her small town to pursue a musical career; she is afraid of ending up like her big sister, Whitney, who met the wrong, wrapped-up-in-drugs guy, Sammy, got pregnant, and seems to be backpedaling. Amber’s friends encourage her to apply to an arts school in a bigger city a few hours away. She’s fueled by the desire to escape.
She’s got so much to leave behind, that as I reader, I often felt the heavy weight of her burdens. Her best friend, Devon, is the brother of the guy she watches and observes from afar, Will. When she spontaneously decides to hook up with Will, she doesn’t know how to tell Devon what happened and be around Will, who has taken on the role of helping her prepare for her auditions. Amber’s mother is the kindest, nicest Christian woman who always tries to have a positive outlook. But she’s lost all self-confidence and because she’s too busy taking care of her children and grandson, she cares little for her appearance and is blinded to the affair(s) her husband has on the side.
Brown did a fantastic job of including several tough-subject discussion points (cheating, church, having a gay best friend, drugs, teenage pregnancy, and sex) without trying to persuade the reader to feel or believe something. She wrote in such a way that the reader will gain a 360-degree view of what was happening in Amber’s life, the struggles she faces, and will be able to walk away from No Place to Fall with all of these thoughts and ideas floating through their minds about how they feel. For a topic-heavy book, there’s no preaching or criticism to dissuade a reader.
Amber is such an endearing, flawed character that’s always trying to do the right thing, but often gets caught up in circumstances beyond her control. As I believe most of us can relate to, she finds herself thinking, “How did I get here?” Trying to get from Point A to Point B always seems so direct, but Amber’s story proves that sometimes life has other plans in store for us that involves a zigzagging, bumpy road.