Author: Rebecca Serle (Twitter)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: March 18, 2014
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included.Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.
The Edge of Falling is, first and foremost, a novel about the human condition and grief - something that might not work for everyone. The synopsis of the novel offers us something fairly generic; a girl who has experienced a great loss and is trying to get back on her feet, little by little. And, I'll admit, I expected a fairly generic novel, as well, with the obligatory love triangle that helps our protagonist feel alive again. What I didn't expect, however, was to read a novel that was so beautifully crafted in a way that many might not recognize. There's a great, terrible beauty to this book that invites you into the hollowness of despair as our author, Rebecca Serle, works to mend both our characters and ourselves.
Caggie was a tedious character to get to know, which can be a bit off-putting when first starting a novel. She's built powerful walls around herself to keep herself safe and others at a safe distance from the pain she feels she's bestowed upon others. As such, we feel as though we're standing on the outside for much of the front half of the novel, simply gazing in on this watered-down version of her life. I feel that Ms. Serle should be credited for her portrayal of grief in Caggie. I've seen many reviews state that they felt it was boring, and I'll admit that much of the first half of the novel is descriptive, hollow and a bit standoffish. However, there's also an incredible power in the way we're introduced to the life of our protagonist. Through her dulled eyes, and her world that's seemingly filled with emptiness and echoes, we understand the magnitude of her grief and her pain. It's an interesting and unique stance for the author to have taken, and I highly commend it.
While I found The Edge of Falling to be a bit predictable, it's important to note that the story is not actually about the secrets behind her sister's death, or the untimely heroism of saving a former classmate. The story is much more introspective than that and, as such, hiding these plot points isn't necessarily the most important part of the novel. I will say, however, that it would have been nice to hold some elements a bit closer to the chest, if only to build the momentum of the novel a bit more towards the end.
In terms of characters, we're offered a bit of a hodge-podge of Manhattan's elite. From Caggie, to her broken-down mother, to her friends and love interests, we're given an eclectic mix of people with whom we can relate. I did feel as though some of the secondary characters, such as Laila, felt a bit like tropes. I hoped for a bit more power and depth from their characters, but I could see that this was Caggie's story in the end, and it was her journey that was going to propel us through the novel. Ms. Serle's writing doesn't let us down, and her cleverly-articulated plot and prose is powerful for those who can read between the lines to understand the enormity of grief, guilt and moving on.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Edge of Falling. I think that it's a bit more high-brow than other novels on the market today, so it won't work for everyone, but the author gives us a lot to think about with a great deal of skill. I give this a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to fans of upper YA and intelligent YA fiction, especially those who enjoy character-driven contemporary novels.
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.