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Even If I Fall

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A year ago, Brooke Covington lost everything when her beloved older brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend, Calvin. Brooke and her family became social pariahs, broken and unable to console one another. Brooke’s only solace remains the ice-skating rink, where she works but no longer lets herself dream about a future skating professionally.

When Brooke encounters Calvin’s younger brother, Heath, on the side of the road and offers him a ride, everything changes. She needs someone to talk to…and so does Heath. No one else understands what it’s like. Her brother, alive but gone; his brother, dead but everywhere. Soon, they’re meeting in secret, despite knowing that both families would be horrified if they found out. In the place of his anger and her guilt, something frighteningly tender begins to develop, drawing them ever closer together.

But when a new secret comes out about the murder, Brooke has to choose whose pain she’s willing to live with—her family’s or Heath’s. Because she can’t heal one without hurting the other.


First published January 8, 2019

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About the author

Abigail Johnson

9 books866 followers
Abigail Johnson was born in Pennsylvania. When she was twelve, her family traded in snowstorms for year-round summers and moved to Arizona. Abigail chronicled the entire cross-country road trip in a purple spiral-bound notebook that she still has, and has been writing ever since. She became a tetraplegic after breaking her neck in a car accident when she was seventeen, but hasn’t let that stop her from bodysurfing in Mexico, writing and directing a high-school production of Cinderella, and riding roller coasters every chance she gets. She is the author of several young adult novels including If I Fix You and Every Other Weekend.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 377 reviews
Profile Image for BernLuvsBooks .
833 reviews4,708 followers
April 30, 2019
"The emotion that can break your heart is sometimes the very one that heals it..." - Nicholas Sparks

A book that emotionally captures you, breaks your heart and still manages to simultaneously fill you with hope. Even if I Fall was all that for me and more!

Brooke Covington's brother is in jail after confessing to his best friend Calvin's murder and as a result her once close knit, loving family is unravelling around her. Being the family of a murderer in a small town isn't easy. They become social pariah's forcing Brooke, her parents and her younger sister Laura to live as recluses in their home.

When Brooke sees Calvin's younger brother, Heath, stuck in the rain on the side of the road she is compelled to offer him help. Inexplicably, Heath accepts Brooke's offer and finds himself in a car with the sister of his brother's murderer. Soon they are meeting in secret. They are drawn to each other, finding solace and understanding in one another. Yet, they each know because of their family's shared past their relationship can't really go anywhere. Can it?

"When he reaches for me, I know that I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he stays awake."

What follows is raw emotion and so much heartache. Each family is struggling to cope in the wake of unimaginable tragedy. Abigail Johnson did an outstanding job of sharing each character's grief. I was pulled in to the story and it had my heart in a vise grip.

I was fully invested in Brooke and Heath's story. I wanted them both to find a way to heal and be happy. This is a story not to be missed. It was a beautiful, emotional, heartbreaking and thought provoking story of broken people struggling to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and trying to find a way to live again.

Thank you Abigail Johnson, Harlequin Teen and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Kendall.
644 reviews653 followers
February 19, 2019
"The first fireworks burst in the darkening sky. I'm suddenly afraid, and my feet have barely left the ground."

Even if I Fall is a stunningly spectacular emotional read that deserves all the rare 5 stars.

Brooke's older brother Jason has been in prison serving time for the murder of his best friend Cal. Brooke and her family have been trying their best to keep the family unit together but the town continues to shun the family away for the murder.

Brooke has ultimately given up her dream of being a professional ice skater to help mend the wounds of her family. Brooke's father throws himself into his woodworking career and refuses to see his son Jason in prison along with Brooke's younger sister Laura who has withdrawn completely from everyone.

All Brooke has right now is her job at the ice skating rink and her new best friend Maggie. One day Maggie runs into the younger brother of the boy her brother murdered Heath in town. Slowly, a relationship starts to build and they realize that they two are the only ones that understand each other.

"When he reaches for me, I know that I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he stays awake."

How can I describe this story? It's so much more than meets the eyes. I can truly tell you with my entire soul that THIS is something you WILL not or SHOULD not miss.

This is a beautifully thought provoking novel that will have your heart bleeding with emotions.

Such a stellar 5 star read!!

Huge thank you to Netgalley and Harlequin Teen for the opportunity to read this arc in exchange for my honest review.

Publication date: 1/8/19
Published to GR: 10/29/18
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 9 books401 followers
November 28, 2022
Wow, this is one of the very best books I’ve read so far this year! What a tearjerker. Brooke’s brother is “gone.” Heath’s brother is “gone.” But we find out as the book progresses that “gone” has very different meanings, and that one was responsible for the other’s death. Brooke is now the town pariah. Her mother runs obsessively, cries in closets, and relies on Brooke to keep the house functioning. Her dad doesn’t leave the basement and talks in grunts. Little sister has gone nearly catatonic. No one goes into town anymore but Brooke, where everyone in their small, West Texas community shuns her for what her brother did.

Here’s where things get interesting. Brooke and Heath meet and start to talk. There’s a lot of anger. Brooke is sure there is more to what happened that night than what her brother told the police. He can’t be a killer. Heath’s brother was his best friend. And as she goes searching for the truth and bits and pieces start to unfold, this goes in lots of directions I wasn’t expecting! So good, and takes a very sensitive, heartfelt look at all the sides of what it means to have a loved one in the prison system, and what it is to lose someone in a horrible senseless way. Very thought-provoking.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,743 reviews5,283 followers
January 15, 2019
The world has been a scary place for Brooke ever since her older brother—her hero—confessed to murdering his best friend a year ago. She’s tried so hard to stay under the radar and keep her family afloat, but how can she be strong when the murder victim’s younger brother suddenly appears in her life, and an unexpected bond forms despite the haunting past between their families?

I love a good, tragic romantic contemporary read, so when I saw the synopsis for Even if I Fall, I was like, yo, sign me up for some heartache and angst, and man, did I get what I asked for or what?

→ L I K E S :

Jason was gone. My family was shattered. And dreams no longer fit into the nightmare we lived in.

Brooke, first of all, is such an easy character to empathize with and feel totally sorry for. Even though her brother is the alleged murderer in the situation, I think writing from Brooke’s POV was bold and paid off well, because it helps put you into this mindset where you can begin to imagine just how painful life would be for a good, decent human being who’s just watched their beloved family member do something evil and unspeakable—and it also pays a helpful reminder that we can’t judge people for what their family members have done, because blood relation doesn’t make them the same person.

I’ll have to smile the whole time and convince us that we’re going to be okay, that the next thirty years of once-a-week visits will be over before we know it, that watching the guards take him away afterward isn’t like having a piece of heart ripped from my chest.

Besides how much I enjoyed Brooke, the plot itself is really fascinating to watch unfold. I can’t say much without going into spoiler territory, but I will say that I didn’t expect some of the places Abigail Johnson took the story to, and I mean that in a good way—I was taken off guard in the best way and left with my jaw dropping like, “Did that really just happen?!” at one point.

I want, for just a moment, to reach for his hand, if only to hold on to someone else’s hurt so I don’t have to feel my own.

The last major thing I want to mention here isn’t even super relevant to the review, but I have to say it: Brooke’s best friend Maggie is such a precious little ball of sunshine and I loved her SO MUCH. She’s a plus-size biracial Korean/white girl who’s obsessed with makeup and fast cars, and no lie, I would’ve loved to have Maggie as my bestie as a teen (or now, for that matter!).

→ D I S L I K E S :

We keep trying not to hurt each other. But I did and he did. We are.

The only issue I had with Even if I Fall, and the reason I’m giving it 4 stars instead of a solid, raving 5, is that the narrative style was a struggle for me sometimes. Overall it was well-done and showed a lot of potential, but there were definitely moments where the dialogue felt unnatural or was hard to follow due to the writing choices.


Overall, it’s not a perfect read, but it’s a delightfully captivating read that will make your heart ache and give you warm fuzzies over and over (usually in alternating order, because this book likes to ‘giveth and taketh away’ a lot). I enjoyed it tremendously and didn’t want to put it down, and I definitely would be interested in reading more from this author!


Readers who like tragic YA contemporary with a touch of romance, and can handle the tough topics discussed within.

Content warnings for descriptions of murder and violence, bullying, depression, grief

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
263 reviews295 followers
August 19, 2018
I loved Even If I Fall! It's an outstanding contemporary ya about Brooke, a 17 year old who has seen her family fall apart after her brother, Jason, was convicted of murdering his friend Cal. Brooke has given up on her dream of ice skating professionally to be with her her mother, who basically lives to see Jason once a week in prison, her father, who has thrown himself into his woodworking career, and her little sister, Laura, who has withdrawn from everything and everyone.

It's summer, and apart from her job at the town ice skating rink that she's barely managing to keep because her boss, alongside everyone else in town, despises her and her family, all Brooke has is her new (and new arrival to town) friend, Maggie, who she tries to keep from finding out the truth about her brother and his crime.

Then she runs into Heath...who is the younger brother of the boy her brother murdered. They should hate each other but as they start to talk, they realize that they understand each other. While the town pities Heath and his family and scorns Brooke and hers, no one sees the pain each of them are truly in except each other.

A slow and utterly beautiful romance builds, one that's believable in all the complexity that's layered in. Over the summer, as Brooke and Heath fall for each other, both have to deal with their own demons as well as the lingering cracks in their families.

Brooke was such a great character--flawed yet relatable--and her growth towards understanding what her brother did and to realizing her dreams had me rooting for her all the way

Heath was swoon worthy. He was just so...awesome! He was smart and kind and sweet and not perfect, which made him even better. And he and Brooke together are Wow! Yes, they are capital letter good.

This an incredibly well written and thought provoking novel. It would be a perfect fit for any Sarah Dessen fan or for anyone who loves complex contemporary YA. I'll be pushing this one hard at the store and in the library and will pair it with Ms Johnson's first novel, If I Fix You, and The Pact by Jodi Picoult for adults and with Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen for teens.

Tldr: A complex and beautifully written young adult novel that's heartbreaking and heartwarming--so good you'll want to read it more than once to fall back into it again.
Profile Image for Susan's Reviews.
1,107 reviews533 followers
October 1, 2019
I enjoyed this heart-warming spin on the Romeo/Juliet tragedy, but this story focuses on the ones left behind: how the death of a loved one affects the family members who are left behind.
Brooke's brother Jason is in jail for killing Heath's brother Cal. Brooke's and Heath's families are still struggling to come to terms with the terrible tragedy that has changed all of their lives. When Brooke and Heath become unlikely friends, they find an outlet for their grief by talking about their difficulties in adjusting to their new reality. So much of their lives went on hold when Jason killed Cal, but both Brooke and Heath are trying to find a way forward. They learn together how to cope with the aftermath of Jason's actions.

Their friendship slowly grows into love - a love that is not acceptable to either Brooke or Heath's families. Obviously, this a modern take on the Shakespearean "star-crossed lovers/feuding families" storyline, but Abigail Johnson puts her own spin on the decisions these young lovers are faced with. She tones down the Bard's melodramatic machinations and opts for a more realistic (but very satisfying!) outcome.

This is a very well-written story, full of humor as well as sadness. Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this story in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,541 reviews234 followers
January 13, 2019
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Brooke's brother may have been the one, who committed the crime, but her whole family became prisoners. They were shunned by their neighbors and friends, and forced to give up their jobs and their dreams, but the worst part was that they abandoned each other. Then Brooke found comfort in an unlikely source, but nurturing this forbidden friendship could shatter her already fragile family.

• Pro: Abigail Johnson is so good at taking me on an emotional roller coaster! I swear I experienced every single emotion known while reading this book.

• Pro: This family was so broken, and their pain emanated from the page. There was a good deal of focus on the family's struggle with reconciling the son and brother they loved with this cold-blooded killer he became. I shed tears for this family, because I can only imagine how difficult their situation was, and my heart broke for them.

• Pro: I loved Brooke. She made some mistakes in this book by isolating herself and pushing people away, but she never gave up on her family.

• Pro: The relationship between Brooke and Heath was so complicated and messy and wonderful. They could understand each other in a way other people couldn't. It was really beautiful seeing those two working through some of the fallout together, and I was shipping them the whole time.

• Pro: Brooke was an ice skater, and I really enjoyed all parts featuring the sport, but more than that, it was what made her feel alive, and I loved the whole idea of this, and how she slowly allowed herself to have that again.

• Pro: This book was equal parts family drama, friendship saga, mystery, and romance. Johnson combined all the elements brilliantly, and I found myself fully engrossed in this story.

Overall: A beautiful story of broken people trying to pick up the pieces and begin living again, which warmed my heart and left me hopeful.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Princess.
420 reviews79 followers
December 12, 2018
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Harlequin Teen in exchange for my honest review.
I am completely blown away by this book. I had all the feelings and am in awe. I loved the writing style and was completely absorbed in this story. My heart broke for Brooke and her whole family .It was so painful to see how everyone suffered, but so worth it to see how they came through in the end. A magnificent story and I can’t wait to read others by This author. I just ordered some!! I will have a review on my blog Princessofpages.com soon!!
Profile Image for Amy.
173 reviews15 followers
December 9, 2018
*** 4 Stars***
Expected Publication: Jan 8th, 2019

What an emotional story this was. Brooke's older brother Jason, confessed to murdering his best friend Cal and is in prison. Brooke ends up offering to help Cal's younger brother, Heath, with a ride in the rain. From there a friendship and quite unique relationship ensues. Reading the pain that Brooke is dealing with what her brother did and Heath's pain from losing his brother, you can only imagine how damaged these two people are and why they may in some way be able to understand one another better. I will admit this story was slow and hit a point where I didn't understand where this story would go. BUT, then when the final mystery is revealed, I was literally jaw dropped. I had so many theories and I wasn't even close! The ending was incredible, tears were streaming down my face; definitely worth the slow burn to get there. Highly recommend this!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for allowing me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Madison.
1,078 reviews62 followers
December 4, 2018
I absolutely love picking up books by Abigail Johnson because I know that I will adore them. They put your through an emotional wringer but they never disappoint. Such is true of her latest title, Even If I Fall. Stunning and heartfelt writing combine with an incredible story of loss, anger, guilt and family breakdown. A story about things you can’t explain much less come to terms with. A story of hope and love, friendship and support. Even If I Fall will entrance readers; perfect for fans of emotional contemporary YA fiction.

A year ago, two families shattered. One through grief and the loss of a son and brother, the other through confusion and guilt and unanswered questions. Now, Brooke feels like she’s the only one holding her family together, visiting her brother in prison, supporting her mother, facing her father’s avoidance and trying to draw her sister out of her silence. But even her new friend, who knows nothing of the tragedy of last year, can’t drown out the pain, guilt and judgemental looks. Until, Brooke passes Heath walking down the road during a thunderstorm and offers him a lift. As the sister of the boy who killed his brother, Heath shouldn’t want anything do to with her, but slowly, they forge their way towards a shaky friendship. But the consequences - to both their families, to themselves and the secrets that have yet to be revealed, might bring only more grief and trauma.

Even If I Fall deals with the difficult topic of murder. Like Brooke I kept waiting for some kind of explanation or justification, but Even If I Fall instead focuses on that impossible balance between loving someone for who they are and hating what they have done. All the emotions are so powerful and I never saw the twists coming.

As Brooke and Heath continue to face the emotional fallout of their situation, they slowly find comfort in each other. It certainly isn’t a smooth beginning to their relationship - the feelings they’re wrestling with aren’t easy, and I loved that that wasn’t brushed over for the sake of romance. Yet, slowly, a trust and tentative friendship develops out of understanding.
Friendship (Brooke’s friendship with new-to-town Maggie), family (Brooke’s family is falling apart in the wake of their brother and son’s actions and Brooke is not sure how to help them) and dreams (Brooke’s goal has always been to become a professional ice skater but she must decide if this is still the right path for her) are prominent features of the story. They give the story depth and balance between the romance.

Even If I Fall is another stunning offering by Abigail Johnson. I can’t wait to share it with our library readers and I eagerly await Abigail Johnson’s next book, which is sure to be just as deeply layered, emotional and a thrill to read.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library


A beautiful cover for what is sure to be a beautiful story.

I can’t wait!!! Even If I Fall sounds sooooooo good. And it’s written by Abigail Johnson, so of course it is going to be fantastic.
Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,793 reviews1,379 followers
November 27, 2018
Of all the fascinating, heartbreaking, compelling storylines - this one just might take the cake. I was drawn to the premise immediately, and the writing sucked me right in. It's an interesting story, and the writing is smart and relatable and the whole thing felt so REAL sometimes.

That said, it wasn't a flawless read for me. I felt like the pacing was a little off and there were times I felt things got bogged down and maybe a little repetitive. It was also downright depressing sometimes. Which, I mean, given the subject matter should not be surprising and, while I didn't love the way this made me feel, I did appreciate that it felt very real. I felt like Ms. Johnson did a great job capturing the stages of grief and fallout for all the people touched by this sort of tragedy.

In all, it was well worth the read, even if it was a little tough to read sometimes. It's not quite a romance, though there is a romance featured. It's more a story of a family learning to grow and heal after a tragic event that rocked their worlds. While I never felt super connected to Brooke, the writing and the storyline itself always kept me wanting to know more and I felt very satisfied with the ending, which delivered on the hope I'd been yearning for throughout the entire story. ~ 3.5 Stars
Profile Image for Laurie.
Author 19 books3,473 followers
April 29, 2019
This is the third un-put-downable book from this author that I've read, and although I loved them all, I think this is my favorite. Author Johnson seems to excel at throwing up pretty impossible barriers between her romantic protagonists (in this book, Brooke's older brother killed Heath's brother - that's about as impossible as it gets), but then weaves tales around these set-ups that are anything but trite, exploring deep themes in the process (the transformative power of forgiveness seems to be a recurring theme - and it's not dealt with lightly, but painfully messy and real to the bone). On a lighter note, Brooke and Heath are wonderfully drawn characters, Brooke's best friend, youtube make-up artist Maggie, is a riot and all the other supporting characters, including Brooke's imprisoned brother, are vividly realized. And this author writes some of the swooniest kissing scenes I've ever read (and I've read a lot of YA at this point). Heath and Brooke's chemistry is off the charts hot (but completely YA appropriate in how far things go...but still off the charts). And I love the beautiful details - particularly the oak tree after it rains as meeting spot. Very, very highly recommended.
Profile Image for Cindy.
1,499 reviews21 followers
December 7, 2018
This Ya novel which I won from Goodreads is a very emotional read. It is the story of two broken families trying to cope and heal after a murder. The son/brother of one family is murdered and the other son/brother has been convicted of the crime. Both families are broken, hurting, and deal with their loss in sad ways. An unlikely relationship develops between Brooke, the sister of the convicted, and Heath, the younger brother of the young man that died. The story is sad but so well written that I grieved right along with both families. I am giving this novel a 4 star rating because the story is genuine and heartfelt. I usually don’t give YA novels 4 stars but this one deserves the high rating!
Profile Image for Woff.
241 reviews6 followers
April 6, 2019
85 pages in and have zero desire to continue. How does this get such great ratings? The characters are boring, there’s no real mystery going on, and I just don’t care! Not to mention the annoyingly dull writing style. Meh.
Profile Image for Hayley.
405 reviews16 followers
August 30, 2018
This book was beautiful. Its a contemporary romance so you get some heat but nothing to drastic which I like. Our main character Brooke, and her family, are trying to heal after Brooke's older brother, Jason, did the unthinkable. The unthinkable being the murder of his best friend, Cal. The family moves to a new city and Brooke tries everything she can think of to stop from fixating on her brother's terrible crime. With everyone in town looking at her like she is a pariah she tries her best to stay out of the lime light. That is when she runs into Heath. Heath as it turns out was Cal's younger brother. The two don't have the best relationship in the beginning, especially after what happened with their siblings, and the anger rises from both sides. However after the two are forced to work together at the same job that is when they start to connect, their anger, and sadness helps express their connection that only the two of them can have. This book had a really good writing style to it, it really made you get involved in the story and the characters. I devoured this book in one sitting it was so interesting, every page turned into the other and I got so wrapped up in what was happening in the book I didn't even notice how much I had read until the book was finished. The writing was simple but not enough to make it boring. It really made you view everything the way you wanted without being over saturated with unnecessary descriptions. I also liked how this book was in parts almost, the relationship between Brooke and Heath, what actually happened the night of Cal's murder, and the family dynamic both of the grieving family as well as the family dealing with their child/brother in jail. This book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions and I'm glad I got to be part of the ride. This is one of the best books that I've read in a while. Everyone needs to check this out, you will never tire of reading this story.
Profile Image for Tamara.
702 reviews12 followers
March 24, 2019
This was an ugly cry [book] for me, I was reading with tears streaming down my cheeks only quarter into the book. It grabbed a hold of my heart and wouldn't let go. I have become pretty picky about what YA I read as most of it - well I won't go there.

I was pulled into this book very easily at the beginning of this book. It's the kind of struggle/uphill battle book. It reminds you that life is hard, but if you keep taking action to move you forward and not stuck in the past, as Brooke finds out that you can get out of your rut.

Brooke's older brother Jason is in jail for murdering his best friend Calvin. Her family is a mess because of it. No one in Telford (her hometown) will speak or look at her, or if you're her boss Jeff at the Rink, you make her life worse by being a jerk to her. Maggie is her only friend because she doesn't know yet that her brother is in jail and or for his reason for being there.

Things change when Brooke meets Heath(he's the brother of Calvin, who was murdered by Brooke's brother) on the side of the road after his trucks break down - yet again. At first, it's hard for both of them, but they continue to meet in secret, and despite everything, they begin to feel more for each that goes beyond friendship.

This was a fast and easy read and I would love to find more books by this author!

Profile Image for Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd).
1,224 reviews258 followers
December 14, 2018
Even If I Fall is an incredibly raw and emotional story that will pull on your heart strings. Brooke and Heath's journey to healing and acceptance was so tentative and awkward in the best possible ways. They were stilted and unsure and realistic. It was so easy to become completely invested in their story and what they were going through - no matter how not universal their situations were.

Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down. It reminded me that getting so completely lost in a story is one of the best feeling in the world. It was just a joy to read and I can't wait to read more from Abigail Johnson.

I received a copy of the book from Inkyard Press via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Sarah {Literary Meanderings}.
680 reviews281 followers
February 1, 2019

• Find my reviews here: Literary Meanderings

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** 3.5 stars **

This is going to be nearly impossible for me to review without spoiling, but I am going to try my best!

One year ago, Brooke's family fell apart. Her brother, Jason, confessed to the murder of his best friend Cal. Brooke's mom is in denial, her dad is angry and isolated, and her sister has gone silent and barely takes care of herself. Brooke feels as if she is the only one trying to hold the family together, but... She's hurting too. She's angry too. The only things in her life keeping her sane are her best friend Maggie (who doesn't know the truth of why Jason isn't around) and working at the ice-skating rink where she used to once dream of skating pro. That dream no longer exists now that Jason is in prison.
And dreams no longer fit into the nightmare we lived in.
Things begin to take a turn when, one rainy evening, Brooke sees Heath walking home in the pouring rain. Heath is Cal's younger brother. Brooke doesn't know why she does it, but she offers him a ride. He takes it, albeit with hostility in his eyes.

Eventually, the two begin a tentative, secret, friendship. They both seem to fill a void the other has in their heart, just a little bit.

Brooke is a wonderful character. She is strong, but flawed. She is trying the most, out of her entire family, to get things back to normal as much as she can. At the same time, she is lying to her new best friend, Maggie, about the truth of why Jason isn't around. She fears that Maggie won't speak to her anymore once she finds out, just like the rest of the town, who has shunned their entire family in the wake of Jason's confession. Brooke does the best she can when facing hostility from people at work or out in public, but it is daunting. She is an inspirational character.

When visiting Jason in prison, Brooke finds out that someone else was present the night Jason murdered Cal. Brooke thinks Jason is protecting someone, so the does some digging and unveils a pretty big secret. The secret itself was a bit predictable—one half of it anyway, because it really is two secrets—and this is one of the reasons I couldn't give the book a higher rating. The reasoning behind the murder was such a trope, but still, the author did do a nice job of trying to point us in other directions. I was iffy, but ultimately guessed it. It was a tad bit disappointing. The SECOND secret was mind-blowing. It doesn't have to do with the actual murder, but someone witnessing it. It shocked the heck out of me and I bet it'll shock you too. Never saw that coming.

The romance is actually really good! No instalove. No my-new-boyfriend/girlfriend-heals-all-my-pain romance. Brooke and Heath have to sludge through their blooming friendship and romance. They struggle. Heath is angry—rightfully so—and has to learn that Brooke is not her brother. Brooke has to grasp the fact that Heath is going to hate her brother no matter what. When the two finally meander through their feelings enough, their romance builds into something beautiful and inspiring. Heath encourages Brooke to go for her dream of ice-skating professionally, and helps her with the moves she needs to send in her audition film.

One other small issue I had with this book is that none of these characters, in the aftermath of a MURDER, mind you, are seeing therapists! WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? I honestly didn't even catch this until I sat down to write this review. NO ONE was seeing a therapist or counselor. No freaking wonder they were all walking around either angry, unshowered, or in denial. I am quite annoyed at this, to be honest. Enough so that I have to knock off another half-star for it. Sad, because I really like this book. It's just that the family is in SHAMBLES, you know? Healing can't always come from within, sometimes you need help. And trust me, Brooke's family needed the help. So bad.

Overall, I did enjoy this book. It packs A LOT of emotional punch. It has angst, but deeper angst than what you'd expect. It breaks your heart and then puts it back together again. The characters are very well fleshed out, even the supporting characters such as Maggie (loved her so much!). There is a little of everything in this book—murder, romance, mystery, family drama, bullying, and more. I didn't like the lack of counseling or the fact that there was some predictability to the plot, but there were also a lot of surprises and one really big twist. I can confidently recommend this one!

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Book source: Publisher via edelweiss
Publisher: Inkyard Press (formerly Harlequin Teen)

For more of my reviews, check out my blog!

Profile Image for Katherine.
778 reviews355 followers
December 6, 2019
”Even if I fall, it’s worth it.”

This may seem like a contradictory statement, but I have never been more enthralled in reading a book that’s steeped in a cesspool of sadness.

Brooke Covington’s brother is a murderer. One year ago, he confessed to murdering his best friend Calvin. The ramifications of his act are nothing short of horrific to Brooke and her family. They are falling apart at the seams within and living in a small town makes the shocking nature of his crime unbearable. There are whispers, stares, rumors, and people who they love and trust that flee in the wake of the murder and ensuing trial. Still picking up the pieces a year later, Brooke only has her best friend Maggie and ice skating to keep her going. Just when things are starting to look tentatively peaceful in her life, she runs into Heath, Calvin’s younger brother. What happens next surprises them both as they start to spend more time together and find they have a lot more in common than they think. But there are still things that are left unsaid between Brooke and her family, Brooke and Heath, and the account of what really happened the night Jason murdered Calvin.

Like I said before, this book is basically one giant cesspool of sadness and despair. The moments of hope and lighthearted moments are few and far between. Let me repeat-- this is not a happy book. Don’t be reading this book if you’re looking for sunshine and unicorns and rainbows. This is a This Is Us level of sadness book.

And yet despite that, I was absolutely addicted to this story.

There was just something so compelling about Brooke, her circumstances, and her story. This was something unlike anything I’ve read before in terms of a young adult novel (the only other comparison being I Hunt Killers). The author did an exceptional job showing the ramifications of a crime and the people they leave behind. A lot of stories that cover a crime are dedicated to the victim, which is how it rightfully should be. However, I often wonder about the family of the suspect and how they deal with crimes of this magnitude- how they wrap their brain around the fact that their family member who they thought they knew so well, inside and out, could do such a thing. No family member wants to believe that one of their own- the sibling they played with, the child they had a hand in creating- could do something horrific or inflict such pain on others. The author captured all those feelings and more in a way that was not demoralizing or exploitative.

I loved Brooke’s friendship with Maggie, with moments between those two containing many of the few lighthearted moments in this book. Maggie is confident, happy, and sure of herself- qualities the old Brooke probably had. I loved how fiercely loyal she was to Brooke even when their relationship was sorely tested towards the end.

Brooke and Heath’s relationship is very unconventional and a little bit predictable. You know they’re going to get close and you know they’re going to fall in love. It’s the YA algorithm. However, to my great relief it wasn’t instalove. Nowhere near it. Their relationship had a lot of ups and downs. Comparing it to a roller coaster would be a disservice in describing their relationship. But at the same time, it was never meant to be easy. Hell, Brooke and Heath shouldn’t even be friends, according to what society dictates. I mean, her brother murdered his brother. That’s a total taboo no-no. And yet I found myself rooting for them. They’ve both been through so much that some part of me just wanted them to be happy. To move away from that crappy little town in Texas and make something of themselves- together. I think most readers will as well.

In her moving portrayal of grief, moving on, and coming to terms with the aftermath of a truly horrific event, Abigail John has managed to write a fiercely sensitive and heartbreaking story that still manages to find glimmers of hope yet to come. Keep two boxes of tissues next to you at all times, because you will definitely need them.
Profile Image for Jenny Jo Weir.
1,549 reviews79 followers
January 21, 2020
Falling for this book is easy!

This is only the second Abigail Johnson book I've read and I can already tell she is a new favorite author for me. I won't tell you how messed up this story is (the synopsis does that), but I will say that the delivery and the twists are not ones I saw coming. I'm loved the way it was messy and broken, while also being beautiful and healing. I'm glad to have been in a world with these wonderful characters. Such a great read!
Profile Image for Stephanie (earlgreyreads).
292 reviews11 followers
January 8, 2019
I loved this sweet, heartbreaking story of two families dealing with grief and tragedy. It has been a year since Brooke’s brother Jason has been in jail, since he confessed to the murder of his best friend, Cal. For a year Brooke and her family have been barely getting by. They have been living in almost isolation due to the shame and rejection of their community. When Brooke offers a ride to Cal’s brother Heath on a rainy day, she finds that he is one person who can relate to the terrible loss that her family is feeling.

This book is so much more than a romance between two unlikely characters. The struggles of Brooke’s family after the tragedy really tore at my heart. Here, we get a unique perspective from a teen who has done something that alters the rest of his life. It starts out slowly as Brooke gets to know Heath and their relationship grows, but at this time she also starts pushing Jason for answers. I wasn’t expecting any kind of mystery here, and I was truly surprised by what she discovers in her search. The characters are so well written that I could really feel their pain, and felt myself lifting up with them as they began to find their way. Even if I Fall is a beautiful story of love, family, and friendship, and despite the heavy topic, it left me hopeful and inspired… and maybe with a few tears. I highly recommend this one!

Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps .
2,340 reviews228 followers
November 21, 2018
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of EVEN IF I FALL by Abigail Johnson in exchange for my honest review.***

After Jason kills his best friend Cal, his sister Brooke’s life shatters. She no longer training to become a competitive skater and studying online instead of in school. Betrayed by her friends, Brooke meets Maggie, new to town, the only person who doesn’t look at her like a murderer’s sister. To keep Maggie’s friendship, Brooke lies about her brother. The only person to whom she can speak honestly is Heath, Carl’s brother. Brooke and Heath know they should become friends, but...

I thought EVEN IF I FALL might be a predictable, like a Disney movie with the ending tied in a near bow. While some of the plot was easy to figure out, other twists and turns showed me I underestimated Abigail Johnson’s storytelling. I couldn’t help but root for Brooke, with her many flaws and good heart. I understood why she kept Jason from Maggie, knowing the secrets would end in disaster. I also championed Brooke and Heath, hoping evidence would clear Jason, despite his confession.

Johnson writes great characters and interesting plots. Even minor characters have personalities and quirks. No one is all good or bad. Family plays a big part in her books which gives her narrators more depth as we see them interacting in multiple situations.

EVEN IF I FALL is an emotionally charged story of family and friendship in the aftermath of a murder.
Profile Image for Ashley Owens.
405 reviews68 followers
April 22, 2019
I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

This is my third Abigail Johnson read, and I have to say I love them all so much. I think her stories and characters are some of my favorite in YA Contemporary, even over Morgan Matson and Kasie West. Why aren't more people reading her books?!

I loved every person in this novel - each character had their own personality and I was invested in them. Especially Brooke's best friend, Maggie, and her younger sister, Laura.

I was happy to see the mental and emotional journey that she and Heath took, and watch Brooke's whole family grow and learn.

The content was tackled well. The fact that I was sympathizing with Brooke's unwavering love for her older brother shows just how emotional Johnson's writing is, because he did not deserve any sympathy.

I completely believed in the main love story between Brooke & Heath. They were good for each other, in my opinion. And had ALL OF THE ANGST. Like seriously, this was Romeo & Juliet times a thousand!

Read this whole book in one sitting, and literally can't think of a single think I didn't like about it. Easy 5/5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Skye ~ Court of Binge Reading.
432 reviews69 followers
November 10, 2018
***Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin Teen for sending me this ARC in exchange for an honest review***

“I can’t find the words to explain myself or to tell her that just because I’m not slamming things or crying doesn’t mean I’m not hurting any less.”

Prepare to feel all of the emotions with this stunningly heart-wrenching contemporary novel. This is the first book I have read by Abigail Johnson, and now I’m scrambling to add all of her others to my TBR list. That is how much I love her writing.

Even if I Fall is a story about the aftermath of a murder conviction. Brooke Covington’s brother, Jason, confessed to killing his best friend, Cal, a year ago. Ever since that fateful day, Brooke and her family’s lives have been irrevocably changed. Brooke and her younger sister, Laura, are now homeschooled due to being bullied and ostracized at school. Brooke’s mom hides her pain by acting as if Jason is just away at college while also taking off on random runs throughout the day. Brooke’s father spends all of his time in the basement working. Laura has shut down emotionally and physically. All she ever does is listen to music or watch TV on her phone. Needless to say, Brooke feels lonely. No one wants to speak about Jason or what happened that fateful night, but Brooke needs to; she’s plagued by nightmares of the various possibilities of that night. She’s desperately trying to reconcile the brother she knows and loves with this version of him that has committed a heinous crime.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone who can relate to Brooke--except Heath, Cal’s brother. At first, Brooke feels undeniable guilt when she sees Heath on the side of the road with his broken-down truck. How can she feel sad about her life when she still has her brother and he doesn’t? How can she feel happy knowing her brother took away his?

After a few encounters, Brooke and Heath find themselves drawn to the other. No one else quite understands their respective situations. Together they learn how to navigate the rocky terrain of their brothers and learn that they aren't a reflection of their siblings.

I can’t say enough great things about this book. Johnson’s words convey such raw, real feelings that I was brought to tears...numerous times. The love Brooke has for her family is nothing short of beautiful. Her dedication, selflessness, and grief were written so incredibly well that I actually felt her internal struggles. I honestly cannot imagine how I would act if I were in her shoes.

This is such a phenomenal story about grief, guilt, shame, and forgiveness. Even if I Fall explores how everyone navigates these emotions in vastly different ways that can actually be harmful to others. Some people shut down like Laura in the face of trauma, but shutting down can hurt those around you who need to vocalize their feelings such as Brooke.

However, this is also a story about not letting someone’s past dictate your own future. When this book starts, Brooke has given up on her ice-skating dreams for her family even though deep down she clings to a kernel of hope that maybe one day she will skate professionally. One of my favorite themes from this book is forgiveness. Brooke has to learn how to forgive her whole family and herself for how they have dealt with this painful situation. But, she also has to learn that she never needed to take on her brother’s guilt for his actions. Though everyone in town acts as if she (and her whole family) too killed Cal, she didn’t. So why is she punishing herself for a crime she didn’t commit?

I could go on and on about this book--which is why you should read it. I need people to discuss with about this book! This story is truly beautiful and I cannot recommend it enough.
Profile Image for Kelly.
1,312 reviews502 followers
July 28, 2019
I loved this book! And it was a bit of a surprise because I went into it thinking I might like it but not love it. Now, I'm just glad I've requested it on Netgalley a while ago because otherwise, I don't think I would have picked it up.

I wish the cover would do justice to this story but unfortunately I don't find the cover very attracting and considering the lack of ratings on this book, I can only think this book should have a better cover. Especially since the content was amazing.

Even if I fall is a heartbreaker. I cried a lot while reading this book but then again, I'm a sensible person who cry easily so there's that. In this book, we follow Brooke, a young woman who is the sister of a convicted murderer and has to deal with the after-match. Everywhere she goes, the whispers follow and her family ends up being punished for Jason's crime. There is also a little bit of a mystery surrounding the night Jason killed his best friend Cal. Brooke needs a reason to understand why her big brother which she loves with her whole heart would do something so horrible and she's determined to find out the truth.

She also starts to become friends with Cal's brother, Heath. I really loved seeing their relationship develop and see them talk to each other about what's really going on in their life now.

If this sound like a book you might like, please give this book a try <3.

(Thank you for letting me read and review of an ARC via Netgalley)
Profile Image for Sharon.
570 reviews3 followers
May 5, 2019
The day her brother confessed to killing his best friend, Brooke’s world implodes and she refuses to believe that the brother she adored could do something so evil and terrible. What could have triggered him?

The quest to find out the truth kept me turning pages and wincing (and doing some ugly crying) as painful confessions come to light.

This was such a tough subject and the author did justice to showing how one action changed the lives of so many.

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