The Fall of Lisa Bellow: A Novel by Susan Perabo

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“This is me. This is really me. Right now. This is me. This is my real life. This is me.”

Most girls who suffer the presence of the ‘it’ girl in school might fantasize about her vanishing, depending on how cruel Ms. Popular is. Reality is something different. When a gunman in a sandwich shop orders Meredith to the floor with Lisa, her life will take a drastic turn. Frozen with fear, how much did she see, how much can she remember in helping the police find Lisa Bellow?

Meredith’s family seems blessed and cursed, an accident has befallen her brother Evan earlier, changing the direction his life was headed, smashing his dreams. Meredith’s parents are beside themselves with relief that their daughter wasn’t the girl taken, but in reality, a part of her seems to have split off and vanished alongside Lisa. As the family is unraveling, we see that there are fractures within. With her father Mark and his upbeat, hopeful, good guy personality and her mother Claire’s cynical nature the things that have befallen them causes different reactions.

Meredith is gaining steam with Lisa’s crowd, suddenly seeming to become popular herself, but how much can she enjoy it? She is disassociating, and Lisa’s mother is clinging to her in strange ways. She was the last person to see Lisa alive, but not even Meredith delusions can give everyone the answers they need.

From the beginning the reader is thrown into the hierarchy of middle school, all the longing to fit in, the painful growing, the search to figure out who we are, the envy and jealousies of those who seem to stand on a stage of worship and sometimes the rejection of everything, a simple surrender. Lisa and Meredith were not friends by the time middle school happened, and when the horror takes place- they will be as intimate as Lisa ever will with another person, in the last moment she is seen alive.

This is about so much more than Lisa and Meredith. I could particularly relate to Claire’s interaction with a young bully, Logan. We should do the adult thing, but a mother’s love is a ferocious beast. The heart of the story, we can love our children, we would die for them, but we cannot truly protect them from accidents, heartbreak, bullying, and gunmen. Children are truly our hearts  walking free of us, unguarded and vulnerable- it’s what no one can teach you, something you don’t fully understand until the very first stumble your baby takes. From then, every failure, scrape, hurt, and fear they suffer is your own doubled as much as their joy is too. It’s what makes being a parent such a fragile state to be in, forever. It never ends, the hope, the fears… maybe Meredith disappeared too, and maybe she needs to be found again as much as Lisa.  Heavy on the heart.

Publication Date: March 14, 2017

Simon & Schuster

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