Josiah's Reviews > Falling In

Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell
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Apr 02, 11

Read from April 01 to 02, 2011

I would definitely bump my rating of this book up to two and a half stars.

There's a lot about Falling In that's very innovative. Author Frances O'Roark Dowell takes unexpected breaks during the text to directly address the reader about certain things that are happening in the story, if those happenings require some additional background information or an in-depth explanation. These sections tend to be the funniest parts of the story, imbued with a fresh sense of humor that I really didn't know Frances O'Roark Dowell possessed. She'll keep you on your toes at these junctures of the story, so keep your mind sharp and ready.

Isabelle is a middle school student who has always sensed that there's something different about herself. She's not at all a troublemaker in the regular sense of the word, but her tendency to space out and not give her full attention to her teachers doesn't exactly ingratiate her with the school's hierarchy. It's on a routine trip to the principal's office that Isabelle finds herself lead to a custodian's door, attracted by the incessant buzzing sound that she hears behind it. Upon opening the door, Isabelle...falls...in.

It's not a closet that Isabelle has entered, however. She has somehow fallen into a strange new world, very much like her own except for the complete lack of modern technology and the fear of witches shared by all the kids. Isabelle has entered their civilization at the time of year when children are all sent to another village to keep them away from the notorious witch that everyone fears, and it's not long before Isabelle (who is deeply interested in all things magic) latches on with one girl traveling alone, to see what she can do about finding this witch herself.

Isabelle is about to have her character, imagination and courage tested by a series of revelations and surprise happenings that will permanently change the way that she views her ordinary life. She will have to stay true to the person she knows she is and be willing to defend what she knows is right to survive in this curious, sometimes dangerous, new world.

Most of the book's depth of thought is found in the enigmatic figure of the suspected witch herself, who has with the increasingly exaggerated spreading of negative rumors about herself become a despised and greatly feared person in this village world. What can a person do who has been severely wronged by others because those others were afraid of that person, and have caused terrible personal harm as a result of that fear? When people as a collective whole decide that someone in particular is bad, even if they're not, what can bring peace to the person who has been so maligned? This is one of the more serious questions dealt with in this book.

I was somewhat surprised by the high quality of Falling In. It's a more solid story than I expected, alternating humor and moments of pathos with the reactions of likable characters who all have a gift or two that can help when the going becomes precarious. This is a book that has something for nearly any kind of reader, and I certainly don't think that anyone will ever say it is boring.
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04/01/2011 page 16
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