Ｔｉｔｌｅ：The Fall of Lisa Bellow
Ｒａｔｉｎｇ： ★ ★ ✩ ✩ ✩
＊Ｎｏｔｅ：Thank you to Simon & Schuster for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Meredith Oliver’s life is normal until she and Lisa Bellow find themselves in the same sandwich shop during a robbery. While Lisa is taken by the robber, Meredith is left behind. This story explores the aftermath of what it means to be the survivor, to be the one who is left behind. The story is told from two points of view: Meredith and her mother, Claire.
There were only two characters that I could really stand in this book and half-way liked. The first was Evan, Meredith’s brother. I liked that he could always tell how she was feeling and knew what to say. Although it was annoying that he was the one Meredith’s mother always went to when she couldn’t find the strength to check in on her daughter. She would always ask Evan to go look after Meredith. He was really more a parent than she was.
The other character I kinda liked was Meredith’s father. I actually felt bad for Mark because of how terrible Claire could be. Mark was non-confrontational and kinda nervous when it came to dealing with his daughter’s emotions. But he really tried. He’d go out and get her things, offer to take her places. Even if he wasn’t sure what to do he really tried to be a good father.
► This one one of the few bits that I actually enjoyed. There were a few moments like that in the book where the author took something that might have been overlooked and taken as positive and made you think about how it could mean something else.
“You were the glue,” her mother told her a couple of months before she died. “You have always been the glue.”
Claire wasn’t sure how she felt about this. “Glue” in the sense of simply being a force that tightly bonds, or “glue” in the sense of the necessary element in fixing something broken?
► I really couldn’t stand Claire. She was kinda twisted and did these horrible things that she somehow thought were alright. One of the things she does in the book is make a procedure more painful than it needs to be for a patient (she’s a dentist)–a young boy who had been bullying her son. And somehow she feels really proud of herself like she settled the score and as if she really taught him some lesson. The kid didn’t even know who she was. Plus, it didn’t solve anything in the slightest.
She slept better that night. The pit in her stomach subsided. There were things that could be done. Perhaps her children were defenseless, her boy just seven, her girl nearly three. But she was ready to enter a new phase of parenting. The joy was ending, and the battle beginning. At least she, the dentist, had some decent tools with which to fight for them.
► This was a big moment that made me hate Claire. There’s a part where she thinks back to a time when she had considered leaving her husband. It was early on in their marriage too. There was just some guy that tried convincing her to run away with him. They never really had a straight-up affair, but there were feelings–enough that she kept wondering if she should leave. When she couldn’t make a decision she told her husband, Mark, not to come clean… but to force him to make the decision for him.
She told Mark about it in the hopes that he would decide for her, that he would be furious and leave her or forgive her and fight for her. But he understood his role. He was furious and did not leave her. He neither forgave her nor fought for her. Instead, after a day of funing, he turned it–the admission, the decison–back on her. “Do what you want,” he’d said, “but for God’s sake do something.” That was the night he grew up, she thought now, the night he really stopped being a boy, his ego crushed, his clear vision of the future shaken, his boyish heart hardened, and then, impressively at twenty-seven, his grown-up resolve: “For God’s sake, do something.” Even then she felt sad for the boy she killed that day, in part because she never got to say goodbye to him.
► Claire was just really … poor as a mother. I didn’t like her. I figure being a parent is difficult in this kinda situation but she doesn’t even try.
Meredish made herself look up from her pancake. Her mother was smiling, but her eyes were drowning eyes, pleading eyes. Meredith could have swum in her mother’s failure. She could have launched a boat into it, a battleship, an aircraft carrier.
► This was when the detective asked Claire if she wouldn’t mind letting Colleen, Lisa’s mom, come over because she was having a really rough time. Again: Claire is a terrible person.
They–Meredith, the whole family–had dodged the bullet. It was a gruesome, awful bullet, but they had doged it, goddammit. Could they not simply dust themselves off, breathe a sigh of relief, and move on? Did they have to become involved? She could not say any of this to the detective, of course. If she was going to be a terrible person, she was going to have to be a terrible person in private. This was something she had learned long ago.
► Again, Claire… always knowing the right things to say…
“That was horrible,” Mark said, later, in the kitchen, while they were doing the dinner dishes. “Horrible. I know it sounds selfish, but I don’t want to do that again. I don’t care what they say. There’s no reaon to–“
“I hope that poor girl is already dead,” Claire said.
He turned off the water. “What?”
“I hope she’s already dead.”
“How can you say that?”
“It’s not going to end well,” Claire said. “It’s been four days. Imagine those four days if she’s still alive. Imagine. It’s not going to end well so the best everyone can hope for is that it ends soon. For everyone. The girl included.”
Okay, well I could really go on with Claire and her stupid remarks but I’d rather do it by jumping straight into the review section.
The first issue I had with the book is that I kept waiting and waiting for the kidnapping. Meanwhile, I was stuck reading Meredith and Claire’s ramblings. That’s really the only way I can describe most of this book. I mean, to be fair, there were a few parts where it showed you some insight into the characters but for the most part, it was Meredith going on about school drama. Or Claire talking about her life regrets and how she never knew what to do in terms of parenting and her children.
As you probably gathered from earlier, I really disliked Claire as a character. She was a poor excuse of a mother, was a terrible person, and just… I didn’t like her negativity. There’s one scene I didn’t include from her where she was just constantly bringing her son down when he tried to get back into baseball.
The writing was alright when it was actually trying to move the story along. Unfortunately, that wasn’t too often. About 60% of the book was the characters rambling. With no real insight into the characters, just simply filling up the pages…
I was expecting this to be more… emotional. But I didn’t feel connected to the characters. I felt angry that they felt very weak. Meredith hardly had a personality, Claire was a terrible person, Mark was nice but too much of a pushover, and Evan was nice but in a very plain way. None of the characters really jumped out or stood out.
I just couldn’t get into the story and I didn’t feel like I got what the book had promised. It just fell flat and could’ve been written a lot better. I wouldn’t recommend this book, it just wasn’t what I had expected at all which was a shame because I really wanted to like it.