Ready to Fall. Marcela Pixley. Young adult/Contemporary. 2017. 368 pages. 3.8 stars.
You are old enough to know that goodbye means something different this time. This time goodbye is forever.
I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy in exchange for an honest review.
When Max Friedman’s mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his head. It’s a terrible tenant–isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality. Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet and slowly becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings–until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how important it is to let go of the past.
When you’re done, bury me next to her so I don’t have to be alone
It took me a while before writing this review because admittedly I didn’t know how to write it. Ready to Fall is a narrative that deals with grief in a way I have never seen before. There is something about the writing that makes the emotion feel so raw. There were times I had to put down the book and call it a day because I couldn’t handle reading it due to its intensity.
Ready to Fall focuses on the story of Max Friedman, and how he is dealing with the loss of his mom to cancer. Max Friedman’s character is so complex, and reading from his point of view can be overwhelming at times. Shortly after his mom’s death from brain cancer, Max is so convinced that the brain tumor took residence in his brain after his mom’s and it spirals down from there.
The humanization of the brain tumor was so twisted in an interesting way. Parts where Max would talk about how the brain tumor was lazing around in his brain, kicking up its feet and watching TV gave me so chills. It is so twisted, but it’s the kind of twisted where we really understand what Max is going through.
Aside from that, the plot also features Shakespeare! I’m a really big Shakespeare fan and have been reading ARCs that feature his plays (Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills) and I personally enjoy them. It is also fitting because Hamlet fits in so well with Max’s story. So if you’re a big Shakespeare fan, I highly recommend this book.
I honestly loved this book with its interesting premise and writing style but there was a big miss for me here, and it was the love story. I thought it was too cliché and completely unnecessary. It belittles Max’s journey to healing. I greatly disliked Fish (and honestly.. who names their kid Fish?!) She reminded me too much of a manic pixie dream girl and I hated it. Her involvement with Max overshadowed his healing process. Had the love story been scrapped off or at least made less cliché I would have given this at least 4 stars.
Nonetheless, I still recommend this book because it does portray mental health and grief very well.
Ready to Fall is set to be released on 28 November 2017.