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3.24 of 5 stars 3.24  ·  rating details  ·  184 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Luke was not eager to accompany his best friend, Hayden, and the cocky new kid, Russell, up to the cliff that night. The plan was to watch Russell jump off the cliff into the lake--his initiation to the Briar Academy fencing team. But instead, after an angry confrontation with Hayden, Russell falls to his death.

Now Hayden is in jail and the pressure is on Luke to report w
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 18th 2010 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 361)
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Jibril Syres
Free Fall is mainly about two boys Luke, and Hayden, they both go to Briar High. Hayden is the popular guy around the school and is known everywhere. On the other hand Luke is Just a student from California trying to fit in. Both Luke, and Hayden are apart of the fencing team. The tradition for the team is that that the new varsity players have to jump from a cliff into a pond. For the first time ever something goes wrong with the jump , and someone has to speak up.

There are alot of things tha
May 31, 2010 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: drama
Hayden and Luke go to Briar Acadamy H.S. They both on the fencing team. As a right of passage, you have to jump off a cliff in order to get on the varsity team.

A new kid, Russell, joins the team and he is not liked by Hayden or Russell. When he goes to jump, things go terribly wrong. Things will never be the same for Luke or Hayden again. A very good book.
Claire Chaisson
While some of the parts of this book are somewhat boring, it has an interesting concept. I enjoyed the storyline, and the way the characters interacted with each other. It made me nervous when Hayden was sent to jail, since he could be found guilty of the crime he committed and be imprisoned. I liked the story of how Luke carried on with his life with the burden of knowing Hayden could be in prison for a very long time.

The book started out a little slow, to be honest, but once it got to the par

This book was pretty good. I liked how often the character told his inner thoughts. There are, however, a couple things that made this book lose half a start-
1) The book revealed too much at the beginning to have the reader question the death of the father. The author might as well've told us right out what happened.
2) The ending was too abrupt- it could've been extended a bit.
3) Some parts, (mostlh the romance bits) were out of character. Also, the realisation at the end
Jun 10, 2013 Linden rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Young adult readers
Ariela Anhalt began her debut novel, Freefall, when she was fourteen. Amazing enough. But equally amazing is her insight into the thought processes of young adults. Freefall, set in a private high school in California concerns the issue of responsibility and locating the bright line between being culpable and not.

As part of the broad panorama of school life at Briar Academy, three students go to a high cliff to initiate a new student into the fencing club. Before competing with the club, every s
Jenni Frencham
What does a follower do once the leader has been removed? Luke has spent his entire high school career following his friend Hayden. He is friends with Hayden's friends, he takes the same classes as Hayden takes, and he agrees with Hayden's opinions. But when a tragic accident lands Hayden in jail, Luke is the only eyewitness, and he has to decide what he is going to say. Did Hayden's actions cause another student's death? Or was this tragic accident truly an accident?

I appreciated hearing this s
Ryan Kassing
What happens in the story "Freefall" by Ariela Anhalt, is that there is a kid named Luke, who is on the varsity fencing team, and he follows his best friend, Hayden, around. To officially be a memeber of the varisty fencing team, you have to pass an initiation. The intiation for their team was to jump off of a cliff into the water below. There is a new kid on the team, Russell, who Hayden does not get along with, who needed to pass the initiation. But on the night that he was supossed to jump, h ...more
This was a struggle. Set in a prep school, it featured a fencing team invaded by "the new guy" (Russ) who seems to be more talented than "the old guy" (Hayden). All of this is witnessed by "the protagonist guy" (Luke). Russ, a cocky sunnuva, makes the mistake of stealing Hayden's babe and then beating Big H at fencing.

Solution? An initiation rite! Invite the ingrate to a cliff
overlooking a lake with plenty of treacherous rocks at the bottom. With only the two adversaries and our faithful report
This book is paired with The Chocolate War. When I saw that The Chocolate War was on the banned list, I had to find out why. It turns out that the violence and ruthlessness of children is hard for some people to stomach. This side of human nature is hard to find detailed in young adult or juvenile fiction, so I set out to see if any other authors decided to write about it, especially after all the controversy of Chocolate War. I didn’t find a lot that was suitable for our audience, but Freefall ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

I am always impressed with new authors. The idea of all the hard work involved in writing a book, and then putting it out there for public criticism for the first time, must take an amazing amount of courage. It is especially impressive when I turn to the info on the back cover and see that the author is a 19-year-old sophomore in college. That's the case with a new release called FREEFALL.

Just how tough are you? When life hits you
Franz Zwicklbauer
By far one of the greatest books I have ever read. The story just captured me. I mean A boy getting angry at a boy and gives him a nudge another boy watching and a the off balance boy falling to his death. It's a great plot line and really relatable. I wouldn't know what to do if my best friend accidentally killed someone. The last lines were my favorite when the judge asked Luke if his friend was responsible for the death of Hayden and he says No, we both were.
Paula Griffith
Wow! Ariela Anhalt is 19 years old and a sophmore at Dartmouth--and this is her debut novel. Anhalt has managed to create a character with complexities remniscent of Holden Caufield (Catcher in the Rye) and Jerry Renault (The Chocolate War). Luke Prescott is a character we want to sympathize with because he lost his father, but the reader will not always agree with how he reacts to the events in his life. We understand his pain and why he would want to go out to the cliff and test his own mortal ...more
Did Luke's best friend kill that other kid on purpose? When he's forced to testify, his life becomes out of control, it seems. This book was a long drawn out "to be or not to be" sort of situation and it got monotonus after a while. While he's wrestling with himself, there is an undercurrent of a turblent family history that is never clarified until the second to last page. The story wasn't really developed all that well, as with the characters. He learns his friends are not really good friends ...more
NOTE: Tons of the f word and a very mature subject matter makes this an almost 8th grade only book!

"Luke has lived in the shadow of his best friend Hayden -- a wealthy, popular boy at Briar Academy -- ever since Hayden took him under his wings and included him in his circle of friends. Then the new kid Russell arrives with the confidence to stand up to Hayden. Reluctantly, Luke goes with Hayden, on a cliff overlooking a lake, to initiate Russell to the Briar Academy fencing team. Something goes
This was the first book that left me speechless after. I was so moved by the story even when I was probably only 12 years old. (15 now) The story is so powerful and touches you to the core. I really recommend it.
a varsity fencing team initiation- jumping from a cliff into the lake below- goes awry one night at a california prep school. now the new team member, russell, is dead, and there were only two people with him that night. hayden, who hated his guts, and luke, who isn't sure how to interpret what he saw or what to say about it in court.

this fairly intriguing drama was a bit muddied by the many tiresome fights between luke and almost all of the other characters. also, the subplot with luke's parent
Luke and his best friend Hayden, juniors at a prestigious boarding school, are part of an elite crowd of fencers who seem to have everything going for them. For Luke, who is still struggling from his dad’s suicide, it has been easier to follow charismatic Hayden’s lead and never say ‘no’ to him. Their lives are thrown into turmoil when they take a new fencer on an initiation jump off a nearby cliff and he dies. Now everyone is questioning if it was murder or an accident. As Hayden awaits a trial ...more
Victoria Leal
This was a fun little read for me. Perfect for a teen but I'm not going to turn down a free book which is why I got it.
I felt like I should have liked this book more because it was so well-written, but I couldn't stand the characters. The main character, Luke, is interesting enough and a tortured soul, but he is just so spineless that I can't like him. And most of the boys are exactly like all the guys I hated in high school--the ones who thought they ruled the world and let you know it. So, I read the first half and skimmed the rest. Teens will probably love it, but I was the teen in high school who said "You g ...more
I enjoyed this book but the epilogue killed me! Who knows what happened and I don't like cliff endings.
I really liked this book, It pulled me in right from the start. I'd read it on my way to school, on the bus and quite frankly I zoned out of everything else going on around me, I was so engrossed with it. Throughout my classes, I couldn't wait to continue reading it, and interval and lunchtimes I'd spend my time doing exactly that. I would have rated this book 5/5. But in all honesty I was left down by the end, I felt like it left me on a cliffhanger and I wasn't completely sure what had happene ...more
Real insight into the mentality of a teenage boy who is angry at the world and doesn't know why. Luke tries to suppress his demons but when his best friend Hayden is accused of pushing a boy off the cliffs, everything bubbles messily to the surface. Very thought-provoking. As a reader, I experienced frustration towards Luke and his seemingly involuntary snide behavior, which means Ariela Anhalt did the best job possible of portraying him.
Feb 19, 2010 Sandra added it
Shelves: ya-fiction
After a fellow Fencing team member dies, Luke is unsure whether the death was an accident or murder. Luke’s best friend is charged with the murder and Luke is called to testify. What will he say? After much soul-searching Luke realizes what his answer must be. This novel which looks into the minds of Luke and his friends will have the reader wondering about their own reactions and responses in similar circumstances
In the interest of full disclosure, I skimmed this once I realized how much I hated all of the people in the book. Even the narrator, which makes things especially tough. So I made it about halfway through the book, when I realized what the trouble was: it doesn't feel authentic. The way people speak to each other, the weight of their disappointments. Just didn't work. I feel like I'm reading somebody's IDEA of tragedy.
This is a book geared toward younger readers, but I'm reading it because it was writtem by the daughter of the friend of a friend of mine. The author is currently a student at Dartmouth College.

I was impressed. It was well written, a very mature effort, BUT the story was one better suited to a teenage reader. I wouldn't recommend it unless you were in the mood to sample some teen lit.
My Book Views
Ugh. Clichés abound in this book (fighting over a girl, hazing resulting in death, drugs, etc.). Ahhalt cgets some credit for good exposition and pacing, but the dialogue is atrocious. Luke's favorite phrase is "I don't know." While that may be how a high school student would answer questions about a death he witnessed, it comes across as lazy writing that does nothing to move the plot forward.
This is a good plot and a good start from a writer who started this book when she was just 14. The writing shows promise, but still needs some polish in places.

People who liked Shattering Glass might like this one.

I also liked that Luke really DOESN'T know the right answer, he has to interpret what he sees with what he knows. Would be a good discussion starter.
A YA book about a boy at boarding school.

Luke is trying to escape the horrors of home and enjoy every moment of boarding school. Unfortunately horror seems to follow him. He is first involved in a car crash, then a few weeks later he sees one of his peers die. Luke has to decide what loyalty means to him and uncovers a few truths about friendship.

A good book.
this book was really good. it had a good interesting plot. this book was about the only reason i took it down one star,was because some things were a little too typical. like his relationship with hayden, he was the quiet one while haden was the big cocky fellow, all the girls fell for. it really has a good lesson behind it. MARK THIS AS A TO READ!
I agree with many of the other reviewers who gave this book a neutral to negative review. Yes, cliched characters, dialogue. Yes, cliched moment of understanding at the end. The part that made the book the hardest to really get into was Luke's perpetual hostility and no character was charged with calling him out on it. It was just wholly unbelievable.
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ARIELA ANHALT is a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth College. Freefall is her first novel.
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