Even If I Fall – Abigail Johnson – Inkyard Press – Published 8 January 2019
A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.
When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.
But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.
I absolutely love picking up books by Abigail Johnson because I know that I will adore them. They put your through an emotional wringer but they never disappoint. Such is true of her latest title, Even If I Fall. Stunning and heartfelt writing combine with an incredible story of loss, anger, guilt and family breakdown. A story about things you can’t explain much less come to terms with. A story of hope and love, friendship and support. Even If I Fall will entrance readers; perfect for fans of emotional contemporary YA fiction.
A year ago, two families shattered. One through grief and the loss of a son and brother, the other through confusion and guilt and unanswered questions. Now, Brooke feels like she’s the only one holding her family together, visiting her brother in prison, supporting her mother, facing her father’s avoidance and trying to draw her sister out of her silence. But even her new friend, who knows nothing of the tragedy of last year, can’t drown out the pain, guilt and judgemental looks. Until, Brooke passes Heath walking down the road during a thunderstorm and offers him a lift. As the sister of the boy who killed his brother, Heath shouldn’t want anything do to with her, but slowly, they forge their way towards a shaky friendship. But the consequences – to both their families, to themselves and the secrets that have yet to be revealed, might bring only more grief and trauma.
Even If I Fall deals with the difficult topic of murder. Like Brooke I kept waiting for some kind of explanation or justification, but Even If I Fall instead focuses on that impossible balance between loving someone for who they are and hating what they have done. All the emotions are so powerful and I never saw the twists coming.
As Brooke and Heath continue to face the emotional fallout of their situation, they slowly find comfort in each other. It certainly isn’t a smooth beginning to their relationship – the feelings they’re wrestling with aren’t easy, and I loved that that wasn’t brushed over for the sake of romance. Yet, slowly, a trust and tentative friendship develops out of understanding.
Friendship (Brooke’s friendship with new-to-town Maggie), family (Brooke’s family is falling apart in the wake of their brother and son’s actions and Brooke is not sure how to help them) and dreams (Brooke’s goal has always been to become a professional ice skater but she must decide if this is still the right path for her) are prominent features of the story. They give the story depth and balance between the romance.
Even If I Fall is another stunning offering by Abigail Johnson. I can’t wait to share it with our library readers and I eagerly await Abigail Johnson’s next book, which is sure to be just as deeply layered, emotional and a thrill to read.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Murder, ice skating, brothers, grief, social rejection, romance, relationships, siblings, family breakdown, juvenile incarceration, friendship.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: References to and descriptions of murder.
Published: 8 January 2019 by Inkyard Press.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook. 352 pages.