Cat Clarke’s young adult fiction never shies away from exploring just how nasty teenagers can be to one another, and how sometimes it really is too late to do the right thing. Falling is a short read from Barrington Stoke, particularly targeted towards dyslexic and reluctant readers, but it is every bit as edgy and intense as Clarke’s other works. The language is simple but still allows for the use of slang, colloquialisms, and swearing – the narrator’s voice is streamlined but not dumbed-down, and sounds authentically adolescent.
The story takes place over the course of one fateful house party. Anna’s about to sleep with her boyfriend Cam, even though she cheated on him the night before. She’s also determined to set her best friend Tilly up with a girl from school, but Tilly has her eye very firmly set on the one girl she can’t have. The fast pace keeps the shifting entanglements from being too melodramatic, and the characterization of Anna – confused, hurting, and not sure what she wants – is handled well. Readers may wish for her to treat people better, but they’ll also identify with her shame for not having done so.
The tone and content of this book make it more suitable for older rather than younger teens, and its length makes it an accessible read that still packs a punch.