FALLING FOR YOU alternates between Rae in ICU after a personal tragedy to the events that lead up to it. Rae lives with her distant/unfeeling mother and an abusive stepfather. He demands she feed him at a certain time and finds fault with her. Rae, like many survivors of abuse, doesn't reach out to others due to being embarrassed of her family situation. **Oh, how true this felt to me as I did the very same thing. So when a cute new boy shows up and is interested in her, she's intrigued. Nathan takes her on a date that is awkward but also confusing. Right here most would say, leave Nathan and move on but Rae accepts another date. Things at home go from bad to worse when her stepfather loses his job and demands her paycheck. The only thing that makes sense to Rae is her part time job at a flower shop and her journal of poetry. All the while she must grasp on to the light in order to make her way out of the darkness and fight for her life and the love she deserves.
This story resonated with me on many levels. Rae's story felt similar to my own as a teen. What some don't get is how easy it is for abused girls to fall into abusive relationships with boys that first come across as loving but are in fact demanding and worse, abusive too. It might not make sense to those who aren't in situations like this. I know personally how easy it is to fall into an abusive relationship. Also the peer pressure of high school and even college to have a boyfriend can be pretty intense. Unfortunately, sometimes having any kind of relationship is better than being alone for someone that comes from an abusive background. So yes, Rae's relationship with Nathan was very probable to me.
Another thing was how Rae doesn't share much with people around her. It's easier not to open up to others because of the shame of living with an abusive family member and/or not having money to buy nice things. Once again the author does a great job of showing the reader this.
What I loved about this story though is the hope that is woven throughout. Leo is the boy who works next to the flower shop. Rae feels comfortable around him. I totally loved him and how he tries to reach out to Rae. There's other too that reach out to Rae in small ways. What's great about this story is how we see little glimpses of light in the beginning that slowly snowball into some more.
The only thing I could say is I kind of wanted more poetry and also to read some of the other students poems from her English class. But this is Rae's story and her world is shown in poetry mixed throughout this novel. You feel her fears, struggles, and even doubts that I feel will resonate with readers.
One sentence sums this book up best: Where light shines, darkness disappears. It would have been so easy to just leave this as a book about an abused teen, but instead Schroeder shows us how acts of kindness help Rae reach out to others and how speaking out does have a ripple effect.
Emotional, moving tale that had me smile at the end. To me, that's a true sign of a great book!
2. Loved how hope/light is woven into this otherwise dark premise
3. Love Leo
4. Ended reading with a smile