Category: General Fiction (Adult)
Author: Susan Perabo
Format: Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), 352 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Pub Date: March 14, 2017
Summary from Publisher:
When a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.
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 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.
- From Goodreads
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo is a telling microcosm of a family who must endure the aftermath of almost losing themselves to the near-abduction of the main character in the book, Meredith Oliver, during an armed robbery at a local Deli Barn.
While most would assume their luck, or blessing as having the daughter who survives the incident while another child (of whom the book’s title is named) is lost and gone missing, this is a story of the girl who survives near-abduction, but not necessarily its trauma.
The novel explores the inevitable panic and unravelling of a family who must cope with the reality of its raw vulnerability after such an incident occurs, bringing to light the psyche and struggle of what it means to desperately suffer in silence and repression in fear of naming the trauma and thus perhaps tipping the delicate balance of their daughter’s hidden mania and what they deemed to be their normal lives before the abduction of Lisa Bellow occurred.
And because of this, the story is able to showcase a vivid and intimate portrayal of hurting and imperfect characters, who, in their love and selfishness, must come to terms with the outcome of loss—and survival.
The tension in the Oliver family grows and erupts as they tiptoe around the withdrawn and melancholy girl who has physically come home, but clings to an emotional disappearance that no one in the family can seem to successfully penetrate.
The dynamics in the family implode in crisis as Claire, Meredith’s mother, grows more incessant in her fear, and pessimism, and her desperate need to feel a sense of control, while Mark, Meredith’s father, comes against his wife’s negativity and hopelessness with what seems like to her, an irritating and infuriating charismatic positivity and charm. Evan, Meredith’s brother, whose vision impediment seems to be ironic as it is a further cause of Claire’s worries, seems to be the only one in the novel with true, clear vision when it comes to Meredith’s condition as well as his and his family’s need to move forward.
But, these are not the only ones affected by Lisa Bellow’s abduction. Colleen Bellow, Lisa’s mother, in her own loss and perpetual bereavement, finds comfort and solace in the proxy daughters she clings to in Lisa’s friends: Becca Nichol, Abby Luckett, Amanda Hammels—and Meredith, herself.
As the gap of days widen from the time of Lisa’s abduction to remaining at a loss of her whereabouts, Meredith’s condition worsens, the fine line between the two girls and their connection to one another in this tragedy, slowly thins.
Together, the narrative will lure its readers to the intimacies of loss, anger, madness, and the heart of what it means to cope with the guilt of relief and burden, as well as the self-inflicted pain of suffering by having to move on without any exacting answers or the knowledge of how to do so.
The book reads like the raw tenacity of an over-bandaged wound, one which will reveal to the reader the heartache of justice in injustice and the numb, yet painful void of unknowing.
Characters: 4 stars
Plot: 4 stars
Language/Narrative: 3.5 stars
Dialogue: 4 stars
Pacing: 3 stars
Cover Design: 3.5 stars
A special thanks to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with an advanced reading copy (ARC) of the book, The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo in exchange for an honest review.
About the Author:
Susan Perabo’s novel, “The Fall of Lisa Bellow,” will be released March 14, 2017. Perabo is also the author of two collections of short stories, “Why They Run the Way They Do” and “Who I Was Supposed to Be,” and the novel, “The Broken Places.” Her fiction has been anthologized in “Best American Short Stories,” “Pushcart Prize Stories,” and “New Stories from the South,” and has appeared in numerous magazines, including One Story, Glimmer Train, The Iowa Review, The Missouri Review, and The Sun. She is Writer in Residence and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.
- From Goodreads