I was so glad to get No Place to Fall in the mail. Obviously I’m a big fan of contemporary realistic YA, and I have a special place in my heart for books about a) small town life, and b) the South. No Place to Fall had that perfect small town, Southern atmosphere that I was hoping for, and so much more. Here are a few of my reasons why you should read No Place to Fall:
The entire time I was reading No Place to Fall, I kept picturing Tyra Collete from Friday Night Lights. If you’re an FNL fan, you already know this means lots of feels. For those who haven’t yet experience FNL (seriously, go to Netflix now), that basically means Amber is a complicated character filled with lots of heart and lots of doubt and lots of strength and lots of sass and lots of pain and lots of awesomeness.
2. Mama and Daddy
A part of No Place to Fall that I didn’t expect based on the general blurb but ended up loving–Amber’s parents and their relationship. They’re facing their own relationship trouble and come across as very real characters. Even though it would be easy to put the blame on one party or another, they come across as real people with real problems, and I love how Amber loves both of her parents, sometimes in spite of herself. Also really want a warm hug from Mama.
3. Whitney and Sammy
Amber’s sister, Whitney, and Whitney’s boyfriend, Sammy, provide another unexpected dose of real life. Sammy’s involved in drugs, which means Whitney is, too, and trouble for Amber’s family. But even Sammy isn’t a mustache-twirling villain. He and Whitney are people who have made some bad choices, but are very real people caught in a cycle of drugs and crime in a small town.
Music is a big part of No Place to Fall. I loved getting a sense of Amber finds escape through song, from folk tunes to country to classical to church hymns.
Religion is a big part of lots of teens’ lives, but I don’t encounter a lot of it in YA novels. I liked seeing church and religion as a presence in Amber’s life, which felt like another real touch in a small, rural town. It was also nice to see church not as a particular plot point (aside from Amber’s musical connections there), but as part of her life.
6. Romance (and more)
A classic recipe for romance: one guy + one girl + music = romance. No Place to Fall has lots of that, plus some real-life heat for Amber. I like that she lets herself be physical, and that the book never shames her for it, even when she makes some less than wise choices. Again, another detail that made her feel like a real teen.
7. Small towns
No Place to Fall feels like the kind of book that needs to be set in a small town. Amber is very aware of what people think of her, of her family, and how deeply she’s tied to the place she lives–both in bad and good ways. One thing that made No Place to Fall stand apart was that aspect of bad and good. Small town life isn’t just something to run away from here. Amber may have bigger things in front of her, but she can’t deny her home.
Amber’s world is also populated by a circle of friends, including best friend Devon, who’s dealing with being a gay teen in a small town, and the other two Ambers in her high school, one of whom is a popular, pretty cheerleader and actually nice! (So glad not to see mean girl cheerleader stereotypes.) It feels like Amber has a wide circle of people she cares about, which felt like a real teen’s friendships. Not everyone has just one best friend!
9. Southern living
No Place to Fall also feels very routed in the South. Amber lives along the Appalachian Trail, where she meets hikers and feels music in the mountains. She’s a character who’s very much a part of where she lives and, although part of that is about small town life (as mentioned above), I don’t think Amber would be the same girl living in a small town in Vermont or Minnesota.
10. Jaye Robin Brown
Jaye is a fellow OneFour Kidlit author and all-around delightful person. In addition to writing YA novels with a lot of feels, she’s also an art teacher, which means that if you follow her on Twitter or Instagram, you get lots of pictures of cool artwork.
No Place to Fall is available on December 9th, so put it on your pre-order list now!