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Ready to Fall: A Novel

Review

Ready to Fall: A Novel

New from Marcella Pixley comes READY TO FALL. This is Pixley’s third book --- the first two being FREAK and WITHOUT TESS. FREAK was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year and WITHOUT TESS was a School Library Journal selection. Like Pixley’s previous two novels, READY TO FALL is young adult contemporary fiction novel about love, loss and hardships. However, young adult fiction is not the only thing Marcella Pixley writes. Pixley has poetry published in various literary journals such as Feminist Studies and Sow’s Ear Poetry Review. With the time she has left from writing award-winning young adult novels and amazing poetry, Pixley teaches language arts to eighth graders at Carlisle Public Schools.

"READY TO FALL made me feel almost every emotion possible: happy, frustrated, a little confused and also incredibly, incredibly sad....the scenes in the book were written beautifully and I could picture them perfectly."

READY TO FALL follows Max Friedman through his sophomore year of high school. However, sophomore year for Max is a little harder than usual. Over the summer, Max’s mom was diagnosed with cancer. This wasn’t his mom’s first fight with cancer as seen in the first chapter, but unfortunately the cancer is different this time and his mom dies from it. Now it is just Max, his dad and his grandmother --- oh, and his mom’s tumor that Max believes has taken up residence in his head. Yeah, he’s here too.

With his tumor bothering him and Max still grieving from the loss of his mother, Max starts to fail classes at his old school. At the advice of Mrs. Grossman, a woman from his support group, Max switches to Baldwin School --- an artsy, unconventional school. He meets a whole new cast of characters like Dr. Cage, his advisor and creative writing teacher; Donna Pruitt, the director of the school play; Fish; and David Moniker aka “The Monk.” There, his new friends Fish and The Monk convince him to sign up for the school production of “Hamlet.” But how is he supposed to perform in the play and enjoy this school if the tumor in his head won’t let him?

READY TO FALL made me feel almost every emotion possible: happy, frustrated, a little confused and also incredibly, incredibly sad. The best parts of READY TO FALL were when the characters would discuss grief, “to be or not to be” and other existential questions. Many of the scenes in the book were written beautifully and I could picture them perfectly.

A weaker part of the book, however, was the side characters --- specifically the teen characters. I didn’t like The Monk, and I wasn’t really sure if I was supposed to or not. I also wish there was a little bit more of exposition on Ravi, one of Max’s new friends, as there seemed to be a lot more the author meant to do with him but never got around to. However, Max, his father and Fish were all written fully and nicely. I did really appreciate this book as it captures the struggles of a teen struggling with these sorts of problems really well.

READY TO FALL is one of those books that you could finish overnight but don’t because there’s too much to think about. It makes you think and process the chapters so you can really read the book well and see what Marcella Pixley is trying to show. There were times where I would only read one chapter and couldn’t read another one before just thinking about the previous chapter first. Books like these are amazing, and I would suggest READY TO FALL to practically anyone who likes that type of experience.

Reviewed by Rebecca D., Teen Board Member on December 13, 2017

Ready to Fall: A Novel
by Marcella Pixley