Shelly Sanders's Reviews > Girls Fall Down

Girls Fall Down by Maggie Helwig
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's review
Mar 06, 2012

really liked it
Read on March 06, 2012

The subtlelty of Helwig's writing makes this a beautiful read, with seamless transitions from the paranoia of the aftermath of 9-11, to the fear of upcoming health crises, to the complicated love between two scarred individuals.

Helwig's poetic expertise was an essential element of this novel; her well-chosen words paint vivid scenes and depict the nuances of her characters, making the setting and people real and intriguing.

"Even the homeless and the outcasts travel downwards when they can, into the ravines that slice around and under the streets, where the rivers, the Don and the Humber and their tributaries, carve into the heart of the city; they build homes out of tents and slabs of metal siding, decorate them with bicycle wheels and dolls on strings and boxes of discarded books, with ribbons and mittens, and huddle in the cold beside the thin water."

I fell for Alex's vulnerability right away; the thought of going blind terrifies me so I empathized strongly with his fears and inability to become close to anybody. His paranoia is real, whereas the paranoia of city residents is based on a faint possibility. The irony is that Alex is calm, accepting of his fate, while others, fearing terrorist attacks daily, over-react and take an excess of precautions.

When Derek, a homeless schizophrenic character is introduced, images of the many homeless I've walked past flashed through my mind. Derek made me think about how each one holds a story, a reason for their fall from "normal" society. Derek is truly the heart of the story, showing us how close we all are to falling down, how mental disease can take our lives away, remove us from our families and homes.

"None of this represents the truth of Derek's existence, his passions and his miseries, the battles he wages all alone against pains and fears and the forces of universal gravitation. The raw courage that is rewuired of him every day. His hard-won choice to continue living, when so many possibilities to stop are offered at every hand...None of this represents Derek's soul, scraped bloody, howling, fighting always to hang on, a solitary superhuman ordeal, unacknowledges by the world, unrewarded."

Girls Fall Down will make you think; it will make you feel; it will make you question your own purpose. And the characters will remain within you for a very long time.
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message 1: by Chuck (new) - added it

Chuck Shelly, I love your reviews and have added this to my reading list. DeLillo has a post 911 novel but i cant remember the title. But it's a good short read.

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