Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher
Rating: Literally no stars
When Savannah Gregory blows out her knee –and her shot at a gymnastics scholarship – she decides she’s done with the sport forever. Without gymnastics, she has more time for her best friend, Cassie. She’s content to let her fun, impulsive best friend plan a memorable senior year.
That is, until Cassie tries to kill herself.
Savannah wants to understand what happened, but Cassie refuses to talk about it and for the first time, Savannah has to find her own way. The only person she can turn to is Marcos, the boy who saved Cassie’s life. Being with him makes her see who she could be and what she really wants: gymnastics.
But Cassie doesn’t approve of Marcos or of Savannah going back to gymnastics, and the tighter she tries to hold onto Savannah, the farther it pulls them apart. Without Cassie to call the shots, Savannah discovers how capable she is on her own—and that maybe her best friend’s been holding her back all along.
DNF @ 50%
I should have paid closer attention to the book blurb. It subtly clues you in on how problematic this book is. The gist of it: Cassie, Savannah Gregory’s best friend attempts suicide. But won’t say why. Afterward, Savannah pulls away, Cassie clings on harder, and Savannah realizes that Cassie has been holding her back her entire life, hinting that she breaks the friendship off. After her best friend who clearly needs her right now just tried to kill herself.
How fucked up is that?
It’s even more so in the book.
One of my best friends killed himself eight years ago. He showed up to work a few minutes late that morning. I teased him about looking like he was hung over and he teased me back about sucking up to our boss. He went home at lunch and blew his brains out.
We never found out why. I will never fucking get over that. I will never forget the last, shitty words I spoke to him. His best friend was the one to find him, and now, eight years later, he’s still struggling with the resulting PTSD.
Suicide is fucking ugly. It’s brutal. It destroys your goddamn life.
This book treats Cassie’s attempted suicide like a plot device. Dresses it up in pretty colors and tries to make it whimsical and romantic and poetic. She drives to the beach, leaves her car running with a note on the front seat that reads, “‘Till human voices wake us and we drown”, and then walks into the sea.
In an overt machination on the author’s part, she’s found by the MC’s love interest, setting him up to be the traumatized hero.
Savannah, the MC, visits her supposed best friend in the hospital just once. Her best friend who just tried to kill herself. Her best friend who spent every goddamn minute by Savannah’s side when she was in the hospital a few months prior after blowing out her knee.
At one point Savannah has a brief internal struggle thinking about how she could have done something to save Cassie if she had only been a better friend, and then promptly proves exactly how bad a friend she is by still not visiting Cassie in the hospital and instead reconnecting with her other friends and re-starting gymnastics, ensuring that she’ll have almost zero time to devote to said best friend who just tried to kill herself.
I’m not going to say too much else about this, because I am still seething right now, and this review will turn ugly if I do. For those sensitive to the treatment of suicide, I recommend you steer far clear of this one.