Review Blog

Jul 20 2017

Falling by Anne Provoost

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20th Anniversary edition. Allen and Unwin, 2017. ISBN 9781760293925
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Depicting racial tensions between migrants and established citizens of an unspecified region in France or Belgium, the prescience of the author is underlined in this 20th Century anniversary edition by the current refugee crisis in Europe.
Lucas is a metropolitan teenage boy who reluctantly accompanies his mother on a trip to a provincial town in order to deal with his late Grandfather's house and property. The weather is oppressively hot and Lucas is truculent and unenthusiastic until he discovers a chainsaw, reunites with Caitlin (a girl he used to play with as a child) and meets some locals Benoit and Alex.
The story starts slowly and dark details of Lucas' Grandfather's past are gradually revealed. Lucas is an object of pity and slight ridicule as he is the only one who doesn't have knowledge of these events from the past and it causes him angst and embarrassment as he deals with geographic and social displacement. Lucas' mother remains silent due to her own discomfort and bears some responsibility for later events because she fails to prepare and guide her son through this difficult matter.
The title is apt on different levels. Lucas falls in love, he falls in with the wrong crowd and falls into a great deal of trouble. The reader feels a sense of anguish and frustration when he makes such poor decisions which affect himself and others in profound ways but this is because what is portrayed is entirely realistic. This is a cautionary tale about the power of charismatic and unscrupulous individuals and their capacity to manipulate people who have vulnerabilities or who lack the worldly wisdom which would normally help them to protect themselves. The events and terrible consequences resulting from poor judgement are not limited to the circumstances depicted in the novel. Crimes of violence and drug involvement as well as deaths from misuse of motor vehicles are examples where individuals sometimes surrender their own values and better judgement in order to go along with others who somehow disable a person's capacity for self-responsibility. This is a powerful story with great relevance and is a worthy read in its own right, however the prominent message concerning who young people should trust and rely upon will not be lost upon adolescent readers and I recommend it.
Rob Welsh

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