December 4, 2014

Latest Read: No Place To Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

No Place to Fall by Jay Robin Brown
Publication date: Dec. 9, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: Amber Vaughn is a good girl who sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out with her best friend Devon. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free. When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream to sing on bigger stages could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older, unavailable brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for audition. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all. Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves.  (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
Amber Vaughn is a girl with an amazing voice but not a lot of confidence or motivation. At least, not at first. When we’re introduced to her, she’s the girl who follows the rules hoping not fall into the same footsteps as her older sister (pregnant early and married to the deadbeat baby daddy). She sings solos at churches, spends most of her time with her best friend Devon and is pretty close with her mom. The only bit of excitement in her life is when she and Devon meet random hikers passing through town, sitting around the campfire singing. Then things in her life get shaken up - first with Devon’s older, seemingly off-limits brother Will and again when she learns about a singing audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Amber was a little hard to understand in the beginning. I connected to her desire for more in her life and her future and just more beyond the town she’s lived in. But in the beginning (and ok, even later), she made a couple, somewhat abrupt decisions that were hard for me to grasp since I didn’t know her too well yet. But aspects of her character did start to shine as the book progressed. Namely, her love of singing. Any scene where she sang or talked about music made me wish I could hear her in real life. Especially when Amber and Will brought their musical talents together with her on vocals and him on the banjo. And I loved that too! That there was a focus on a atypical instrument and even church music and choir. You could just feel their passion in the author’s words. And this passion eventually brings them together romantically as well. I didn’t know what to think of their blossoming relationship at first but as the book goes on, I found myself hoping they’d get a happy ending.

But it’s not just about the romance. It’s always hard to pursue a dream deemed impractical and I could see why Amber was so hesitant and scared. But I also think the ability to sing is such a gift and I loved watching her overcome her fear of performing and pursuing this dream. One of her biggest supporters for this audition is her mom which she didn’t expect. Their relationship and her mom’s own separate story in the background was another highlight of the book for me.

(Some) Reservations
Like I mentioned earlier, Amber makes a few questionable decisions in this book. And even though I knew her heart was in the right place most of the time, I still thought — girlfriend, what are you doing?! She’s a smart girl. It just didn’t make sense for her to do these things. There were also a couple sub-plots that didn’t feel necessary or maybe if the book had been longer, should’ve been fleshed out to make more of an emotional impact. To me, between the audition, the confusing relationship with Will and her family life, that was more than enough to capture my attention. All that extra stuff just detracted from what I really wanted to read about.

Do I recommend?
I would recommend checking this out from the library. There’s definitely a story here that I enjoyed despite my reservations and it’s a really fast read.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Favorite church song?
I couldn't pick one! It's a tie between Be Not Afraid and Shout to the Lord. Be Not Afraid has sentimental value to me and it's been my favorite hymn since I was 10 years old. On the other hand, I first heard Shout to the Lord while in college. My cousins did the Praise & Worship at their church and ever since I heard them sing it, it's been fave of mine. 

2 comments:

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  2. I love your picks for the church songs! Shout to the Lord is a song I've known by heart since I was in the 6th grade, so it's pretty familiar to me. Be Not Afraid is also a lovely hymn. And as for No Place to Fall, I felt similarly. I really liked the story, and thought it was worth a read, but I also feel like it could have been developed a teensy bit further.

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