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Even if I Fall

Review

Even if I Fall

EVEN IF I FALL by Abigail Johnson revolves around Brooke Covington, a high school senior who is struggling to find a new normal with her broken family. Over a year ago, her brother Jason confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin, and has been sentenced to 30 years in prison. Brooke is able to visit her brother during visitation hours every Saturday morning, engaging in small talk but not addressing the major question: Why did he do it? One day, Brooke offers Calvin’s younger brother Heath a ride home and the two find unexpected comfort in talking to one another. They begin to meet in secret, knowing their already fragile families would be shattered if they found out.

"Both characters are developed beautifully; the two are raw, relatable and real with one another. Johnson makes the reader feel great empathy..."

Throughout the novel, it is apparent how broken both Brooke and Heath’s families are after the murder. While one deals with grief, the other is left with a plethora of unanswered questions and confusion regarding the motive. For Brooke’s family, her sister Laura has resorted to withdrawing from everyone and everything. Brooke’s mother is constantly busying herself with tasks until the next time she can visit Jason in prison, and her father has decided to immerse himself into his career. Brooke is the glue that keeps the family together and has given up on her dream of being a professional ice skater in order to watch over them. As for Heath, his father has abandoned the family, his mother diligently spends every hour at Calvin’s grave while his sister struggles to cope herself.

As the story unravels, a secret regarding the murder is revealed, leaving both families with numerous questions. Despite this, Heath and Brooke are able to cautiously lean on one another for support navigating their families and the judging faces of residents in their small town. Both characters are developed beautifully; the two are raw, relatable and real with one another. Johnson makes the reader feel great empathy for the characters and understand the decisions they were making. However, the story does not solely center on their fragile friendship and budding romance, rather it is layered with family dynamics, friendships, and aspirations. The complexity Johnson is able to weave into the novel makes it an engaging read with twists and turns, and of more heaviness than a typical YA novel.

In the end, Johnson is able to convey the power of an individual’s actions. Readers are able to get a glimpse of the aftermath through Brooke’s lens, and how shattered her family has become due to Jason’s selfish and destructive actions. Overall, I strongly recommend this novel to readers looking for contemporary YA, and who are fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Sarah Dessen. Johnson employs some language and violence used, but it is nothing that should deter one from grabbing the novel. EVEN IF I FALL is fast paced, extremely well written and thought-provoking.

Reviewed by Ryan H., Teen Board Member on January 16, 2019

Even if I Fall
by Abigail Johnson