While I’m Falling
I was immediately a bit hesitant when I got this book in the mail. It was sent to me unsolicited and while it seemed like a book I could love, something about it made me fearful that While I’m Falling could be a little too trivial. Luckily, I was way off par with that assumption.
I am a big sucker for high school and college age stories—not sure what it is, but the fact that the protaganist, Veronica Von Holten, is a junior in college is what made me give this book a chance in the first place. However, a book has to have much more than a college setting for me to enjoy it. Case in point: I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe. That book was a horrible load of tripe, as far as I’m concerned. But I digress—I’m straying off course here.
Veronica has what seems like a fairly ideal life until her father comes home from a business trip one day and finds the family roofer in his bed. He realizes the severity of the situation when he finds a love note from his wife that was left for the roofer. He and Veronica’s mother, Natalie, immediately decide on divorce after twenty-six years, and suddenly money becomes very tight. Veronica is forced to become an RA in order to get free board in her dorm room, but she is unwilling to make any sacrifices for the job. Meanwhile, she is studying to become premed, a career that she is only faintly interested but feels pushed into. All her spare time is devoted to studing so that she can ace an upcoming organic chemistry test. All while juggling a house sitting job, a boyfriend, and all the other issues she has going on in her life.
Laura Moriarty did a great job portraying Veronica, her parents, and her overly ambitious sister Elise. All four of them had their flaws but each one of them had their commendable traits as well, except for maybe Veronica’s father Dan. The treatment of Dan grated me a bit. Veronica’s mother cheated on him, yes. And yes, she also had what she viewed to be a loveless marriage with no other alternative. Despite that, or maybe because of it, Veronica and Elise go pretty easy on their mother. However, Veronica pretty much castigates her father throughout the book. At one point, I decided I no longer trusted Veronica’s opinion when it came to her father. I just felt she was too biased when it came to the judgement she placed on her father. And that’s ok—no one ever said a narrator or protaganist couldn’t be biased, but it definitely changed the way I viewed Veronica.
One of the major themes in the book is supporting oneself and choosing ones own destiny. Elise has become an attorney, just as her father Dan is. Meanwhile, Veronica is premed. Their father has beat this into their heads that they can be women and still have successful careers. He laments the fact that women go to school for English or Art History, especially because they are only waiting to find a husband to support them. Now, I was an English major myself. I chose that major because books are what I love—nothing more, nothing less. Maybe being an English major isn’t the most pragmatic decision, but at some point you have a duty to yourself to be happy. As Veronica battles with this connundrum, she is witness to the struggles her mother faces by being an Education major. Natalie has been out of the workforce for over two decades as she raised her daughters, but now that she is a divorcee, she needs a job. As anyone will tell you, it is not so easy to get a job after twenty years of not being a part of the work force, and Natalie’s case is no different. She struggles to support herself and is suddenly made to be the prime example of what happens when to divorced women who have not had a job in years and years. This theme especially comes into play at the end of the book, and it was one of those issues that I couldn’t, and still can’t, resolve within myself because both sides of the issue made sense.
I have yet to read any of Laura Moriarty’s other books, but if they are as well written and formulated as While I’m Falling, then I would say Moriarty would be an author to watch out for.