I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra Coutts when my sister and I went to the Austin Teen Book Festival last summer. I had never heard of her before then, but I thought she seemed like a nice gal. I think if I ever publish a novel, my personality would be similar to hers when going to book events – kind of shy and quiet, but still quirky and sweet and soaking in every minute. I didn’t buy her book at the festival, but we did have a little run in. She said that she liked my nail polish, so duh I decided to love her.
“We were crazy. We were in love…And sometimes, that’s what it looks like. When you’re young, or even just out of practice, it can hit you like that. It feels like you’re going insane.”
“Now that the real ending is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely. All of the goodbyes, and leaving the people she loved. The people she loved leaving her. They felt like endings at the time. But the next day, she had gotten out of bed, and maybe there was a hollow pit where her stomach used to be, maybe she didn’t feel like eating or talking or seeing people for awhile, but mostly, things stayed the same.”
Tumble & Fall begins with an asteroid called Persephone that is set to hit the earth in exactly a week.The novel is told from the perspective of three different characters – Sienna, Zan and Caden. Each go on their own adventure of sorts whilst trying to figure out what to do with their last week alive.
At the beginning of the book, Sienna is leaving a group home after her suicide attempt. Her father brings her to Martha’s Vineyard where he is currently planning his wedding to a woman named Denny. She spends her last week on earth resenting that her father is going about business as usual while trying to drag her and her little brother, Ryan, into wedding planning. Instead of helping her father, she rekindles a friendship from her childhood with Owen, and she ends up running away with him to build a Noah’s Ark of sorts with other people on the island who are holding onto their last bit of hope.
Zan is introduced as the girl still trying to mend her heart after her boyfriend, Leo, died in a car accident a year ago. She is given a book that was found in Leo’s car, and it has a mysterious name and phone number written on a receipt inside of it. She and Leo’s best friend, Nick, go on a little goose chase to find Vanessa, the girl whose name was written on the paper, to see what Leo was doing on his last day alive.
Caden lives with his alcoholic mom and little sister. He spends most of his time away from home. At the beginning of the book, he is kidnapped by his father who abandoned him and his family over a decade ago. His father makes attempts to rekindle their relationship and get back the years that they lost. While at his father’s, he meets a woman named Sophie, and an unlikely friendship is formed.
Because the novel was told from three points of view, there were a lot of characters to keep up with, but each story was very unique. One thing I did long for was more overlapping. I was hoping that Sophie would end up being the Vanessa girl but she just changed her name or that the characters would interact with each other more, but there wasn’t much overlapping other than the end. It was almost like reading three different books.
My favorite storyline was Zan’s because I was rooting for everything to be okay for her. I can’t even begin to imagine the heartbreak of losing somebody you love, and I thought it was brave of her to find out what Leo was doing on his last day alive even though she was suspecting the worst. I related with Caden the least even though I also come from a family of divorce. I feel like his dad was just an unpredictable and unlikable character, and I wish that Caden had gotten to spend his last week in different place. I thought Sienna was being selfish by running away from her family just because she was angry with her father for remarrying. I know that if I were ever that angry at my parents, I would never abandon my little sister the way that she did to her brother.
One thing I was confused about was that none of them were really trying to spend time with their families. I mean, I understand that they’re teenagers and they weren’t exactly close with their families, but the world is about to end, so shouldn’t they be spending time with the people they love? None of them chose to do that. I’m including Caden in that because, even though he was kidnapped by his father, he most likely wouldn’t have been spending his last week with his drunken mother. Both Zan and Sienna chose to run away from home to go on adventures of their own. None of them do anything really extraordinary to try to make the most out of their last seven days. They kind of live life like nothing is going to happen.
This book did get me thinking about what I would do if I just had a week to live. I have so many things on my bucket list that I would try to do as many as possible, but I would do them with the people that I love the most. I definitely wouldn’t run away from my parents or abandon my siblings.
This book received a lot of negative reviews on Goodreads, which I was really confused about. It contains a lot of the elements that I like about YA novels – young love, adventures, unexpected twists. I think people were disappointed with this book because they expected there to be more excitement due to the world ending. In all honesty, I could sit here all day and say that I’m going to go bungee jumping or swim with sharks or stalk Zac Efron if I had seven days to live, but in all honesty, I probably wouldn’t do anything that’s worthy of writing down. I’d spend time with my family, my boyfriend, my friends, my dog. I would live in denial.
I give Tumble & Fall a 3.5 out of 5. I feel like people didn’t relate to the reality of the world ending. They wanted more action and drama. I hope that the low ratings on Goodreads don’t deter people from reading this novel. It’s more psychological than anything and really makes you think.