Friday, March 1, 2013

Falling Out of Place

Falling Out of Place
M.G. Higgins
Saddleback, 2013
$9.95, Softcover

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 12+
Description: Gabby Herrera is having a tough time struggling in the shadow of her older sister, Celia. When she was in high school she was the perfect student with A+ grades, an obedient attitude, and a responsible nature. Gabby, on the other hand, is the family disappointment. She is a basketball start but none of that matters to her parents when she brings home her C-average report cards. Gabby also has a bit of an anger problem. Meanwhile, her younger sister is manipulative and knows how to work their parents so she seems like a perfect angel and can get away with anything while their parents spend all their focus on Gabby. When Gabby’s bad grades have pushed her parents too far they demand that she quit the basketball team. In reaction, she gets very angry and loses her ties to her best friend (who admits that Gabby scares her sometimes) and the rest of her crew, which are all fellow basketball players. Her mom hopes she can teach Gabby responsibility by getting her a job in the warehouse of the grocery store she works at. There Gabby’s life spirals out of control as she meets fellow workers Evan and Jo. Evan is a player and both of them are heavy into partying, drinking, and doing drugs. When Gabby learns that her only ally, Uncle Mike, is gay she convinces him to come out to her family and they disown him. When Gabby learns that Mike has committed suicide, she takes a mysterious pill Evan gave her and downs a bunch of vodka (which he warned her not to mix) to try and off herself because no one will miss her. When she wakes up in the hospital she and her family are going to have a lot of growing and talking to do.
Opinion: This book is part of Saddleback’s Gravel Road series, which the publisher describes as “Sometimes we find ourselves on a gravel road, not sure of how we got there or where the road leads. Sharp stones pellet the unprotected and everyday wear and tear sears more deeply.” The books are considered award-winning urban teen fiction titles. They aren’t related in plots or anything. This book was better written than Higgins’s other novel, Bi-Normal. Gabby is an angry young teen. While her story might be somewhat clich├ęd (bad grades, drugs, partying, etc.), she is a character that many teens can relate to in some way. She is struggling to live in the shadow of her above-normal older sister and her parents just can’t see that Gabby and Celia are two different people and no matter how hard Gabby tries she won’t be Celia. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Where Celia was good at school, Gabby is good at athletics. She doesn’t understand why her parents can’t realize that she could get into college on a sports scholarship. Gabby makes reckless choices, such as sneaking out to go to parties with Evan and Jo, who are about five years older than her. Luckily, during one of these parties the experience proves a little too creepy that she is smart enough to leave. Uncle Mike is a moving character. Because he is (in the beginning) a gay man hiding that fact from his family he has always felt like an outsider and not fully accepted so Gabby looks up to him. His suicide is sad and causes Gabby is finally crack but he helps heal her even after he is gone with a box of things he left behind for her. This was, overall, a nicely written book.

*Thanks to Amber Dormanesh at Saddleback for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*

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