Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Synopsis: What happens to the girl left behind?
A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith the girl he left behind,
After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive, and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.
The Fall Of Lisa Bellow is the first book I’ve read by Susan Perabo. While I had a few issues, I thought she did a fantastic job getting into her characters’ psyches, which made this a very interesting read. The story is told for the most part from the first person POVs of Meredith, and her mother Claire. Thirteen-year-old Meredith is what really holds this book together. Seeing the trauma she goes through during and after the robbery and abduction of her classmate, who is your classic mean girl is heartbreaking. Perabo has a very descriptive style of writing which made me feel as though I was in the sandwich shop with the two girls as they laid on the sticky linoleum floor, terrified beyond belief, and trying to comfort one another. Meredith is extremely sympathetic as a young teen dealing with the aftermath, others expectations of her, and her PTSD. The way she deals with all this has her mind wandering at times into the fantasy realm. One scenario has her observing what Lisa is going through with her abductor. The other has her fantasizing that she and Lisa were both abducted. Both scenarios come across realistically, but the author meanders a little too much with them. The chapters that are told from Claire’s perspective are the ones I had the most trouble with because I disliked her immensely. Without going into spoiler territory, some of Claire’s thoughts and actions are pretty horrifying even before the abduction of Lisa. She loves her children, but she’s selfish and displays an appallingly skewed moral compass. Making things worse is that she and her husband are completely clueless when it comes to helping Meredith and her brother Evan who is still recovering from a trauma of his own. The loving relationship and dialogue between Meredith and Evan were my favorite parts of the book. I think they do a far better job at helping each other than any of the adults in the story. I wasn’t thrilled by the ending which left me with questions I really wanted answered, but I understand why the author chose to go this route. Overall, The Fall Of Lisa Bellow is less a thriller, and more a psychological drama that takes a thought-provoking look at the people affected by a child’s abduction. Susan Perabo has an interesting style of writing and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for any future books by her.