In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.
A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.
In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.
When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?
Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?
About this author Christina McDonald is the USA Today bestselling author of These Still Black Waters, Do No Harm, Behind Every Lie and The Night Olivia Fell, which has been optioned for television by a major Hollywood studio. Originally from Seattle, Washington, she now lives in London, England, with her husband, two sons, and their dog, Tango.
I am not going to go into great detail critiquing what didn’t work for me, but I will say I couldn’t look past the following: predictable plot, stilted dialogue, cliched characters, juvenile writing, and plot holes abound. I grew sick of constantly being told what happened vs. being able to see what happened.
I bumped up my rating for the ending--the emotion shined through and felt more natural than the rest of the book.
I think I am the only person who didn’t love this book, so feel to ignore my review and enjoy for yourself.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley and Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.
"The Night Olivia Fell" had an intense beginning that pulled me right in. I had to keep reading. I HAD to find out what happened...
Abi Knight is a devoted single mother to teenage daughter, Olivia. Abi and her daughter have a great relationship. One word Abi would give to describe Olivia is…sensible. Olivia does well in school, she doesn’t drink or party, and she does what she’s asked. But Abi admits that lately, Olivia has been different, very moody and distracted.
Then one night the phone rings and Abi is suddenly living her worst nightmare.
“This is Portage Point hospital. It’s about your daughter, Olivia. I’m afraid there’s been an accident”.
Abi drives to the hospital …hoping and praying that Olivia will be alright. “Please, please be okay.” But then she sees the pity in the doctor’s eyes. He explains that Olivia has permanent and irreversible brain damage. Life support is keeping her body alive. Abi tells the doctor that Olivia spoke about donating her organs. But the doctor tells Abi that they can’t turn off life support due to Olivia’s condition. Abi is confused…what condition?
We then hear from Olivia. We learn about her life and the time leading up to the night she fell. Olivia had been feeling like her mother was controlling her life. She also felt like her mother was keeping things from her.
On a school visit to the University of Washington, Olivia sees someone who stops her in her tracks….
And she knows instantly that her life will never be the same
Abi had only wanted the best for her daughter. It appears Olivia had a life her mother knew nothing about. But what was Olivia doing up on that bridge in the middle of the night? Was it an accident or was it something else entirely?
“Whether you help me or not, I’m going to find out what happened to my daughter.”
Abi wants to prove to the police that it wasn’t an accident. But how will she do that? And could she be putting herself in danger by trying to find out exactly what happened?
This story is told from both Olivia and Abi’s point of view which I really liked. The relationship between mother and daughter was moving and believable. As a single mother with a daughter close in age to Olivia, I could relate to some of the things they were dealing with. I thought all of the characters were very well-developed. The book was engaging and easy to follow, and I read it in just a couple of sittings.
“The Night Olivia Fell” was a well written and addictive domestic suspense novel. I’m excited to read more from Christina McDonald.
I'd like to thank Gallery Books for a copy of this novel. All opinions are my own.
5 “Trust Me, you absolutely cannot miss reading this book” stars to The Night Olivia Fell! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I read The Night Olivia Fell with a group of blogger friends, and we unanimously loved it! An emotional read perfect for groups, The Night Olivia Fell is definitely a book you will to discuss with friends!
The Night Olivia Fells opens with a scene of which no one wants to relate. Abi Knight receives a phone call that her teen daughter has been in a tragic accident and is in the hospital. Upon arriving, she learns that her daughter is not only brain dead, but also pregnant.
From there, the narrative shifts between Abi’s narrative, mostly in the present day with some flashbacks, and Olivia’s narrative in the months leading up to her fall, until the two narratives merge in a masterful way.
Abi believes from the start that Olivia’s fall is no accident. She sees bruises on her wrists, and she quickly learns no one is taking her seriously, including the police. Once the police finally do begin to investigate, the case never seems to be their priority, and Abi decides to take matters into her own hands.
What happened to Olivia that fateful night, and how will this tragic story end?
There are so many things I loved about The Night Olivia Fell, and the biggest is how grounded it is in reality with authentic emotions, relationship dynamics, and characters. And those characters…wow! Not one is simply good or bad; they are a nice mix of complexity that keeps you guessing, especially when it comes to pointing the finger at who might have harmed Olivia. The author kept a wide net cast when looking for the suspect. I would develop a theory, and then pan to the next potential perp as the story went along and red herrings were dangled.
The Night Olivia Fell is so much more than the typical suspense story. While it has all the paramount trademarks, including secrets, lies, and formidable tension, it is in a league of its own with its intensely relatable characterization and raw emotion. You will love Abi and Olivia, and you will most definitely want to wrap your arms around each of them together, as you read their story and accept their individual fates as mother and daughter.
I read this book as a group with Berit, Holly, Melisa, Mack, and Kendall, and this was the best kind of story to read together. We shared in the tension, the love for these characters, and the guessing game at just who was guilty at the center of it all.
Thank you to the author, Christina McDonald, for the complimentary physical copy. All opinions are my own.
Abi Knight has to live a mother's worst nightmare. Her 16 year old daughter Olivia fell from a bridge after being assaulted and is now braindead. Olivia is also pregnant, something Abi hadn't known until Olivia's doctor informed her at the hospital. Her daughter will now be kept on life support until the baby dies or can be delivered. Abi puts all her energy and effort into discovering who was with Olivia that fateful night.
For a girl who didn't have any enemies, Abi thought, it turns out there were at least five people who might have motives to want Olivia out of their lives or dead. For months Olivia hadn't been herself, which Abi became more aware of as she thinks back over the events of those months. So much had been going on in Olivia's life that Abi wasn't aware of and Abi comes to learn just how much Olivia hated and resented the control that Abi exerted over her life. Control that Abi considered protecting and nurturing Olivia, but Olivia considered overbearing and repressive.
As the book introduces us to each of the people who might want to harm Olivia, we also meet people who may not have wanted to harm her but still were instrumental in keeping the truth from coming out of what really happened that night. Abi is a mom driven to find out the truth no matter how much it hurts because she'll never get her daughter back. With so many people in the book who might have a motive, I wasn't positive who was responsible for her injuries. Olivia did put herself in harm's way many times, and we read some chapters from her point of view. Knowing her fate and reading her chapters, as they are happening, makes it hard to handle that we can't just stop her from taking the risks that she takes. I have never been a mother but I can see the frustration a parent would feel, wanting to protect their children and being helpless to do so.
Published February 5th 2019
Thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books, and NetGalley for this ARC.
wOWZA! This book took me on quite the emotional journey! As a mother I couldn’t help but completely empathize with Abi(The mother in this story)... I cried with her... I raged with her... I hoped with her... my mama bear was out throughout this book, I needed answers and I needed them now! Imagining my own daughter in the hospital bed brain-dead and pregnant, quite honestly made me a little sick and stressed... this is a credit to the beautiful and engrossing writing in this book, I was completely immersed and committed.... The fact that this is Christina McDonald’s debut is simply.... impressive!
Abi gets that phone call in the middle of the night that all parents fear... her daughter is in the hospital, she has fallen off a bridge...Abi’s mothers intuition tells her this was not an accident and this is reinforced by the bruises around her daughter’s wrist.... The police don’t appear to be doing much of anything to find out who pushed Olivia off that bridge.... but Abi is determined and will stop at nothing to find out who hurt her little girl...
Told from both Abi and Olivia‘s perspectives... we get the events leading up to this tragedy from Olivia‘s eyes... as well as watching Abi’s heart wrenching journey... not only to accept that she has lost her daughter, but also to figure out how this could have happened.... this was such an impactful way to tell the story because the more I got to know Olivia the more my heart broke right along with Abi’s.... also Christina McDonnell did a fabulous job with getting into the mind of both a 17-year-old and her mother.... I saw a lot of myself in both of these characters...
This was an emotional domestic suspense... as the book progressed I was suspicious of almost everyone at some point... I also found myself questioning both Olivia and Abbi’s actions... I kept thinking if only.... then... but isn’t that what life is all about? every choice we make has an impact on our lives.... had Abby told Olivia who her father was, then maybe? Had Olivia told her mother who she had fallen in love with, then perhaps? So many questions and no good answers and as we all know hindsight is always 20/20...
This is a book that left me with tears in my eyes and hope in my heart! I absolutely recommend for anyone who enjoys A beautiful story about the love between mothers and daughters with a huge dose of suspense thrown in....
*** many thanks to Christina McDonald and Gallery for my copy of this book the book releases in February 2019 ***
I can wholeheartedly (even though half my heart is gone after reading this)... say that The Night Olivia Fell deserves 5 shining stars. This has a spot on my shining bookshelf for life!!! <3 <3 <3 <3.
OH my goodness... where do I even start with this? Firstly, I don't think I have EVER read a debut like this. The amount of talent that Christina McDonald has is mind-blowing. I truly was blown out of the water with how beautiful, poetic, and dark this novel is. This... can sometimes be a very hard thing for authors to do.... keep your readers on edge with a thriller and managing to get some tears out?! THAT is talent my friends no, ands, ifs, or buts about that statement ;).
It's funny because as we all know I am a huge mystery and thriller fan... and I know everyone keeps seeing my 3 star reviews... and I have to tell you it takes A LOT for me to give my entire 5 stars. THIS IS IT. It's everything... just stop right now and get your hands on this. (PSTTT Netgalley... click away)
If you're expecting me to go into the plot with my review... I won't because going into this book blind will make the experience so much more worthwhile. Trust me on this <3.
I had the honor of reading this alongside my book besties and wow what an experience to have these amazing ladies join me :).
I will leave you with this... inspiring, addicting, and uplifting.
"Whenever, whatever. I'm here forever."
I cannot thank Christina McDonald, Netgalley, and Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books enough for the opportunity to read this in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Expected publication date: 2/5/19 Published to GR: 8/29/18.
The Night Olivia Fell was another highly anticipated mystery on my list of 2019 releases. Come on, look at that chilling cover! I've found myself becoming more drawn to these lighter dramas that feature mother-daughter relationships; while my children are generally younger than the girls portrayed in these types of stories, I still find myself daydreaming about what life will be like when I, in fact, have teenage daughters myself. This book features one of those worst case scenarios where, you'd think as a mother of girls I would want to pass up, but surprisingly reading it helps me work through my anxieties by facing them head on.
Abi is a single parent, sacrificing everything and working to the bloody nubs to provide for her daughter. When she gets the dreaded call that Olivia's body has been found after falling off of the town bridge, she's justifiably devastated. When it's made clear that Olivia will never recover from her comatose state and Abi decides its time to pull the plug, the doctors drop a bombshell-Olivia is pregnant. They would like to keep her on life support until the baby is viable to survive without its mother, which gives Abi plenty of time to look into her own investigation of what really happened to her daughter.
While the mystery surrounding who murdered Olivia felt obvious from early on, I noticed there were a few portions involving related plot twists that captured my interest, and the writing and emotions inserted into the story were so well done. As a mother of two daughters, I can only imagine what Abi went through in this story. If you're looking for a lighter mystery that is more character driven, and one that will make you feel every emotion on the spectrum of feels, definitely pick this one up.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
4 Gripping and Suspenseful Stars for The Night Olivia Fell
Abi Knight got the middle of the night phone call no parent wants to receive - "This is Portage Point Hospital. It's about your daughter, Olivia. I'm afraid there's been an accident."
Abi rushes to the hospital to be faced with terrible news. Olivia was found at the bottom of an embankment near ZigZag bridge. She sustained severe head trauma and permanent and irreversible brain damage. Her little girl was gone. Could there be anything worse?
Abi is shocked to learn that there is more. Olivia had secrets that she can not fathom. Her teenage daughter in all essence lay dead in a hospital bed, surrounded by bags and pumps breathing for her. Not because there was any chance of waking her up, it was solely to give the baby she was carrying a chance at survival. Faced with insurmountable grief, shock and emotion Abi reaches for her daughter's hand and notices something wrong. The silver charm bracelet Olivia always wore was gone. In it's place were finger mark like bruises.
Abi tries to make sense of the situation when things simply don't add up. In her heart she knows someone hurt Olivia. Yet the local police seem more than willing to brush it off and rule it an accident. Needing to know what really happened the night Olivia fell, she begins to unravel the secrets of her daughter's life trying to piece together what happened that night herself.
The story unfolds via two alternating point of views - that of Abi in the present and flashbacks of Olivia's past. I couldn't help but get pulled in by Abi's pain and grief and her desire to protect her child, even in death. The more Abi searches the more secrets she is faced with, including those from her own past which she has tried desperately to hide.
The mother-daughter relationship was very well developed. We get to see it from both Abi and Olivia's point of view and it definitely tugged at my heartstrings. I felt for Olivia whose life was cut short when there was so much ahead of her. Although I figured out what happened to Olivia it didn't take anything away from how I felt about the story. For me, it was a plausible and well developed scenario - not something that came out of left field. The ending left me feeling both sad and content and definitely looking forward to more from Christina McDonald.
Thank you Christina McDonald, Gallery Books and NetGalley for an arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Abi Knight receives a life changing phone call in the middle of the night informing her that her daughter, Olivia has fallen off a bridge. After Abi rushes to the hospital, she receives the gut-wrenching news that Olivia is brain dead and pregnant and must remain on life support to keep the baby alive. Shocked, saddened, gutted, Abi notices bruises on Olivia's wrists. Where did they come from? When did she get them? What happened to her daughter?
Olivia's fall is ruled an accident by the police. But Abi can't shake the feeling that something isn't right. Why does her daughter have bruises? Was the fall an accident or did something else happen to her daughter that night. Abi must know. Who wouldn't want to know?
This book is told through both Abi and Olivia's point of view. Abi after being told about her daughter's fall and Olivia's told from months leading up to and the day of the fall. The reader gets to learn more about each of these women, their thoughts and emotions. Family dynamics, mother-daughter relationships, dating, falling in love, friendship, truth, the search for one's identity, etc. it's all here in this book.
I found this book to be absorbing and felt for both Abi and Olivia. This book will pull on your heartstrings and had me reaching for my tissues. Watching Abi grieve and fight to learn what happened to her daughter, I couldn't help but wonder what if? Unimaginable. The reactions and emotions in this book felt believable and raw.
I found this book to be well written and emotionally moving. I was riveted to the pages and wanted (had) to know the truth. Reading this was an emotional journey that delivered a powerful punch to the heart. I can’t wait to read what Christina McDonald writes next.
Thank you to Christina McDonald, Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thought and opinions are my own.
I rolled over and peered at my alarm clock. The red lights blinked 4:48 a.m. Nobody called at this time of night with good news.
”Hello, is this Abagail Knight?” The voice —a man’s—was low and tight, coiled like a viper about to strike.
”This is Portage Point Hospital. It’s about your daughter, Olivia. I’m afraid there’s been an accident.”
And so the mystery and intrigue begins ... A mother’s worst nightmare becomes her reality and she sets out for the hard fought truth.
Questions, lies and secrets are paramount in this storyline. Questions, lies and secrets are responsible for the strained relationship between Abagail, a single mom, and her seventeen year old daughter, Olivia.
...I’d worried for so long that all the lies I kept hidden on the dark side of my heart would one day be washed into the open. These lies, my past, kept me always on guard.
I read this book in nearly one sitting. It was just so compelling, so unique, so irresistible. The dual POV narration between mother and daughter were icing on the cake.
What a phenomenal debut novel. I will definitely be on the lookout for Christina McDonald’s next release.
*Thank you Net Galley for a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.*
I am speechless...The Night Olivia Fell blew me away. I can't even remember the last time a book had this emotional pull on me. This book was not even on my radar until my reading group The Traveling Sisters organized a group read for it. I am so glad I joined in and read this with them.
When I read the description of this book, I said no I can't read this. I am an ER nurse and I see so much heartache that I try not to read about it on my time off too. I just want to put this out there in case you are worried about reading it. Yes it tugs at your heartstrings but the whole book wasn't focused on the family sitting at bedside, as I thought it would be. I must say I was relieved and pleasantly surprised as I quickly figured this out.
The majority of the story was trying to determine what happened to Olivia. Retracing her steps from her point of view and then flashing to current times.We are privy to her relationships and how she interacted with everyone. We learn her thought process up until the time of the fall. There was so much mystery surrounding Olivia's fall that I literally could not put this book down until I had some solid answers.
Towards the ending this story morphed into an emotional roller coaster for me. There is a part where the fine details that the author includes literally had me feeling like I was in the room with them. I often come away from a book feeling euphoric when I really love the book. This book touched on something that I can't even put into the words. I felt emotionally overwhelmed for several hours after finishing. I felt a sense of personal loss, which I never feel like this when reading a book. I had to keep reminding myself that it is a BOOK and it is a work of fiction. I think this speaks volumes as to the immense talent this author has that she managed to get me so emotionally worked up.
I obviously can't express how much I loved this book and I highly recommend it to everyone. This book is going to stay in my thoughts for a long time to come.
THE NIGHT OLIVIA FELL by CHRISTINA MCDONALD was an absolutely fabulous novel that I completely devoured and was totally invested in. It was such a moving, suspenseful, enjoyable, and heartfelt tale that immediately evoked emotion and totally grabbed my attention. It opens up with a nightmarish scene that definitely pulled at my heartstrings and had me sitting on the edge of my seat in anguish and despair for Abi and her love for Olivia as we are pretty much privy to Olivia’s fate right from the very beginning.
CHRISTINA MCDONALD delivers an impressive debut that was character-driven, gripping, fast-paced, intriguing and well-written that was told in two timelines between Abi’s perspective after Olivia’s fall and Olivia’s before the accident.
I absolutely love it when a book produces so much emotion from me and has me pondering and guessing the outcome with all the different possible scenarios. This book for me had it all! An emotionally charged & fascinating storyline, realistic & believable character dynamics, and a well-crafted & intense mystery.
I was so wrapped up and invested in what I was reading that I didn’t even want to figure out or listen to my innervoice. I just let the story guide and take me there.
Norma’s Stats: Cover: Formidable, ominous, foreboding, haunting and eye-catching. I absolutely love the look and feel to this cover and think that it is such a fitting representation to storyline. Title: Intriguing, haunting, tragic, poignant and an extremely fitting representation to storyline. Writing/Prose: Engaging, poignant, readable, beautiful, and well-written. Plot: Fast-paced, fascinating, thought-provoking, moving, heartfelt and powerful. Ending: Bittersweet, tear-jerker, and satisfying. I was a blubbering mess! Overall: Wowza, this book was amazing in everyway and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience and escape! A favourite read for me that I will forever remember and would highly recommend!
Thank you so much to Madison at Sparkpoint Studio / BookSparks and Christina McDonald for providing me with a physical ARC in exchange for a review! It was an absolute pleasure reading this novel and LOVED the reading experience!
I am so thrilled to have found this author, Christina McDonald. I found her writing to have such an addictive quality. She has created some memorable characters that brought depth and raw emotion to the story. It was both heart-breaking and tender.
Abi is a single mom who puts her teenage daughter Olivia first, above all other priorities. She has spent her life protecting Olivia, but she wasn’t there the night Olivia fell from a bridge (and she is a helicopter mom). Olivia is now on life-support, she is pregnant, and she has bruises. Abi has a mother’s intuition and isn’t buying the police report that the fall was ” an accident“. Why aren’t the police investigating? She is committed to do whatever it takes to learn the truth.
The story flows nicely with cleverly placed hints to how the mystery ultimately unfolds. I was totally invested and wanted to know how it would end. I changed my mind several times about “what really happened” and ohhhh that ending! I can’t say anything else!
A loving mom searching for answers, a toxic relationship, and a search for truth make this one an emotional page-turner.
Thanks to the author and publisher for my Arc to read/review. All opinions are my own. Publish date is Feb.5,2019
The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald is a 2019 Gallery Books publication.
Engrossing and emotional mystery-
When Abigail Knight learns that her seventeen- year- old daughter, Olivia, is lying in a coma after a fall, her life turns on a dime. Noticing some marks on Olivia's body which suggests the possibility of foul play, Abi works tirelessly to discover what really happened to her daughter. Yet, she is met with one brick wall after another and resistance from law enforcement when she pushes them to pursue the case fully.
Meanwhile, we hear directly from Olivia, who fills in the blanks about her home life, introducing us to her friends, and romantic interests, while explaining the events leading up to her fall.
Her haunting voice reflects on her relationship with Abigail and the usual teenage dramas, which eventually leads to some hard and serious questions about her absentee father.
This is a very impressive debut novel by Christina McDonald. I was immediately invested in the story and remained riveted all the way through to the heart-rending conclusion. The mother/daughter dynamic is explored as long buried secrets float to the surface, highlighting the similarities and differences between Adi and Olivia. The taut atmosphere kept me on edge, despite sensing the direction the story was going to take me.
The questions Adi has about what led to Olivia’s fall, the lies and secrets that plague Adi and the teenage angst, makes the mystery compelling, with several surprising revelations, that kept me guessing until the big reveal, which did, but didn’t surprise me, if that makes any sense.
Teetering on the literary line, the story delves deeply into the various insecurities and vulnerabilities of the characters touching the need for belonging, the ways we detach to protect ourselves, and how we deal with life’s curveballs and the lessons one takes away from adversity and tragedy.
It’s not often that a mystery novel is as thought provoking and stirring as it is suspenseful, but McDonald manages it masterfully!
This is a stunning, beautifully written debut by a talented author, Christina McDonald. I read this one with my @6bookbesties and we all had rave reviews.
One night, Olivia is found unconscious after having fallen off a bridge. She is brain dead and pregnant and her mother, Abi, tries to understand what happened that night through her devastation. Told in alternating perspectives, we have flashbacks from Olivia (which are stylistically different and very accurately portrayed) and chapters from Abi who is on a mission to discover the truth.
As a thriller, this one is full of subtle red herrings which will steer you in a hundred different directions. I had my eye on a certain culprit the entire time (I was wrong!) but truly suspected every character at one point or another.
As a mother, I could so relate to the feelings of worry and protectiveness, and my heart broke for the character of Abi. The extreme emotional pain she was experiencing throughout this story was very evident in the writing and even brought a few members of our group to tears. To imagine what Abi was feeling, all the while trying to figure out what happened to her poor daughter - it was an experience in empathy to the max.
This is an intricately woven story, full of love and heartache. Highly recommend.
A huge thank you to Christina McDonald, Gallery Books, and Carly Watters who provided us with an early copy. This book will be available early 2019.
So you’re a big fan of domestic thrillers? Don’t miss out on this one!
That phone call that comes in the dead of the night. Nearly always a bad omen. Just the kind guaranteed to deliver bad news, completely rattling your world to the core. So remember…once you answer, nothing in your life will ever be the same.
Welcome to Abi’s life. 4:48 am... the phone rings “Hello, is this Abigail Night?”
And so the nightmare begins...
Abi is a single mom. Maybe just a bit of a helicopter parent with her teenage daughter Olivia. She demands to know where she is and what she’s doing every minute of the day. Including, but not limited to, scheduled check-in phone calls.
Olivia loves her mom and has no issues with her moms’ overly-protective nature. That is until she reaches those teen years where independence is everything!
Olivia now has a huge part of her life she’s keeping hidden from her mother and her friends. Truths that will devastate everyone involved as the mystery unfolds.
I’ve seen so much hype for this book and it deserves every bit of it! I absolutely could not put it down! A daughter’s quest to unravel the past and find herself. A mother’s determination to find the truth behind who harmed her daughter. A shocking conclusion. Marvelous.
This book tugged at my heart and by the last page I was left in a puddle of tears!
The Night Olivia Fell surprised me. So often when I read thrillers there certainly are twists and turns to contend with, but it's rare that I find one that touches me emotionally as well. This one did, which made it richer than a simple thriller.
No one wants the phone to ring in the middle of the night. But Abi Knight is roused from sleep and receives the call no mother wants to hear—her teenage daughter, Olivia, has fallen from a bridge. When Abi arrives at the hospital she learns the full, horrible truth, that Olivia is brain dead and will never wake up, but the hospital needs to do everything it can to keep her alive, because she is pregnant.
A single mother, Abi has spent her whole life striving to protect her daughter from any possibility of harm. She pressured Olivia to study as hard as possible, checked her homework, gave her early curfews, made sure she always knew where her daughter was every minute they weren't together. Abi was determined that Olivia would have a more stable life than she had. So how did it all go utterly awry? How could Olivia be lying in a hospital bed, being kept alive by machines in the hopes that her baby might survive?
"I'd spent my whole life hiding, just existing behind the walls I'd built around myself. I never got the answers I needed when my mother died. I was powerless to stop my mom killing herself. Powerless to make Olivia's father choose me. Powerless to stop my daughter from—the pain of reality hit me in the stomach."
When Abi notices the bruises on Olivia's wrists, she expects the police will fully investigate what happened to her. But when the police rule the incident an accident, Abi cannot understand why no one seems to care what happened to Olivia. Abi won't let that roadblock stop her—she is determined to get answers. What happened to Olivia that night? Who is the baby's father? Was Olivia's fall an accident, or did someone deliberately try to kill her?
"What do you do when you know something and nobody will listen? When you need answers and nobody will provide them? When you can't trust anybody to help you?"
Christina McDonald does a great job in both laying out the mystery behind what happened to Olivia, and creating a richly emotional story about a mother struggling to come to terms with tragedy, and the possible glimmer of hope that lies beyond it. The narration in The Night Olivia Fell shifts between Abi and Olivia, between present day and the path of events that culminate in Olivia's fall.
While I didn't find the resolution of the mystery to be particularly surprising, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book, or how hooked I was on it. Clearly that is because of McDonald's talent in telling this story, making you care about the characters and drawing you in fully, so you can't stop turning the pages and devouring the story.
This is a poignant story of parental love, teenage angst, the need for truth, and the realization that no matter how hard we try, we can't always escape our problems. I enjoyed this tremendously, and can't wait to see what McDonald has in store in the future!
Suspenseful and twisty that kept us guessing, so heart-wrenching it left us in tears, a mother’s love and the lengths she will go to protect her child shone through and left us reflecting on our own need to protect our children. Family secrets and the search for the truth left us discussing what we prefer truth or happiness. A mother’s grieve left us hugging our own children.
We had the absolute pleasure of Christina McDonald joining in on our Traveling Friends Goodreads discussion as well as our Instagram discussion for her outstanding, emotional, thought-provoking domestic suspense novel The Night Olivia Fell. Christina so gracious with her time, spend two hours chatting with us and answering our questions. She shared some insight into the story and her writing. It was the most incredible reading experience we have had in our groups. After our discussion with Christina, there might have been some dancing around the house!
Thank you so much to Christina McDonald for joining in our discussion and for sending me a finished copy of your book. I will be hugging it for awhile!
Whether you’re a parent or not, everyone knows what a parents worst nightmare is. When Abi receives a call at 4:48 AM she knows that no good calls come at that hour. As she wakes from her sleep addled mind, from the safety of her dreams and a world in which her daughter is alive and thriving – she wakes to those nightmares realized. Her beautiful, vibrant teenage daughter Olivia is in the hospital. A terrible accident has occurred and she must get there right away. As Abi flies down roads, driving in a reckless frenzy to understand what has happened to her daughter she has no idea what lies ahead.
When Abi arrives to the hospital she finds that the daughter she knew to be so full of life and love, with a bright future ahead of her has fallen off a bridge and has no cognitive function left. As Abi grapples with the news that her entire life has been ripped away from her while she was asleep she isn’t prepared for the next bomb to be dropped. Olivia can not be laid to rest, Abi can not say goodbye to the shell of the daughter she once knew, because Olivia is pregnant and Abi had no idea. What happened to her daughter? How could Abi have considered them so close, best friends even and not known that she was pregnant? And why, does Abi feel like this wasn’t the accident everyone else seems to think it was?
To feel love was to feel fear—you just couldn’t let it dictate your life. Love was a risk, but it opened up a world of possibility, one you would never experience without it.
Wowowowowow, where do I even begin with this? McDonald really knocked it out of the park for me on the emotional side of this thriller. I was immediately drawn in right out of the gate and felt gripped by the unfolding of events. While the questions about Olivia’s pregnancy, her life, her father and what happened definitely drove me on in the story what really blew me out of the water was McDonald’s ability to make me feel so deeply connected to Abi’s pain. There were numerous times throughout reading that I had to step away because I felt my heart breaking along with Abi, it was visceral and real for me. McDonald’s writing connected to the parts of the reader that has ever felt loss.
In typical thriller fashion we’re given alternating POVs between Olivia and Abi and while sometimes I think this can be used as a tool to prolong a story unnecessarily, McDonald executed this masterfully. It added necessary development to Olivia’s character and created a lot of dimension within her relationship with her mother. While the overall mystery here is what happened to Olivia when she fell, and obviously how she got pregnant there’s a few other twists and turns about Abi’s past and Olivia’s life that get thrown in there for good measure.
Trust, I’d learned, was the greatest gift you could give, the greatest gift to receive. The belief that a person wouldn’t betray you required a strength and confidence.
I’d say my only gripe / let down is that the way this entire story concluded left me a bit wanting. There were a few plot holes in Abi’s past and how she handled settling into her life with Olivia that felt rushed and implausible to me. However, overall they were minor and didn’t detract from my overall takeaway. I was incredibly emotionally invested in Olivia and Abi’s story and I was immensely impressed with McDonald’s ability to draw me so completely into their pain.
But there are no redos in life. You can’t go back and make things better. All you can do is live with it and move forward.
It was difficult for me to get through and while I’d normally fly through a read like this, I had to take breaks to deal with all of those emotions. McDonald didn’t let up for a single moment and she had me until I was a floppy, sobbing mess on the floor at the end. However, there was a beauty to the ending that left me feeling both sad and at peace at the same time, which is how I think Abi feels in the end and there’s a poetic symmetry in that, that I found beautiful.
Sometimes when things are falling apart, the jagged pieces drift together and fuse into a newer, unexpected version of life.
Christina McDonald has taken those broken pieces of a family's tragedy and created quite the telling. This one is heavily imbued with real, believable characters who find themselves leaning into the wind of unbearable loss. McDonald, adeptly, makes us turn our own heads and question what our reactions would be if we faced similar circumstances.
The dreaded phone calls almost always come in the middle of the night. Abi Knight has just been informed by the hospital that her sixteen year old daughter, Olivia, has fallen from a bridge and is in critical condition. By the time that Abi and her sister, Sarah, arrive at the hospital, the news becomes even more dire. Olivia's scans show no brain activity. But there is another victim on the edge of life....... Olivia is pregnant.
While reeling from the onslaught of such bone-shaking news, Abi takes a stand to do all that she can to find who did this to her daughter. Olivia will remain on life-support in an effort to keep the baby alive until delivery can occur at the safest moment. The police report gives all indication that this was merely an accident. But Abi is far from convinced.
McDonald shifts the story between alternating chapters voiced by Abi and Olivia. She keeps the tension in high gear as the calendar reverts to the past months leading to the bridge incident. We will find out a good deal of Abi's past as well and how it impacts Olivia's. Everyone will become a suspect in your mind. Certain characters will whiz you off. McDonald does a fine job of engaging her readers because this is an emotional read with so much at stake in the mix of things.
Let's face it......we'll all be reaching for the next offering by Christina McDonald. It's that good.
I received a copy of The Night Olivia Fell through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to Gallery Books and to Christina McDonald for the opportunity.
Heart-wrenching, emotional, beautiful, suspenseful, thought-provoking, and uplifting—this is a book that is filled with love in many forms, and that I won’t soon forget! When I read a book and I start to fall for the characters, I know that it will quickly become a favorite of mine. This book made me think about the impact of a single moment in time, and the ripple effect on the lives of those surrounding a young woman. It made me think about the chain of events that lead up to and away from a tragedy, and how we go about getting answers and finding a way to move forward when the worst happens. It is a story about the love of a mother, and the unrelenting pursuit of justice for her daughter.
About the Book
Early one morning, Abi Knight is awoken with the worst news a mother can hear—there’s been an accident and her daughter Olivia is in the hospital in critical condition. By the time Abi arrives, she receives the news that Olivia has fallen off of a bridge and won’t ever wake up again. There has been irreversible damage to her brain.
Devastated, Abi wonders how to say goodbye to her only daughter and best friend. But there’s a catch—the doctors can’t pull life support from Olivia by law, because Olivia is pregnant. Shocked, Abi wonders how Olivia’s life got to this point with her being unaware. What happened that night? And how long has Olivia been pregnant? Did she know? Why didn’t she tell Abi, who was herself a teenage mother?
As Abi becomes determined to find the answers she seeks, the carefully constructed life she has created for herself and her daughter begins to unravel. A lie she told comes back to haunt her, and the secrets of Olivia’s life begin to surface. But despite all of the lies, Abi is certain Olivia’s death was not an accident. Her bracelet is missing, and there are bruises around her wrist. A string of text messages and digital clues may hold the answer to Olivia’s final hours.
What really happened the night Olivia fell?
What an incredible debut novel by Christina McDonald this is! I want to first speak on her writing—it is incredibly filled with detail that makes the scenes and emotions leap right off the page. For instance, as Abi rushes to the hospital early one rainy morning, reeling from the call from the doctor about Olivia, McDonald describes the sensory details of that trip. The wet leaf caught on the windshield, being moved around by the wiper blades before finally tearing. The squeal of tires and grip of the steering wheel as she tries to balance her panic with arriving safely. The sharp contrast between the bright lights and the dark hours of the morning, glistening on the damp pavement. The shakiness in her legs. Her writing is like this throughout the book, contrasting the inner monologue of the characters with the detail of their surroundings. You can easily picture this book as a film, watching it play out before your eyes.
And the story itself is one that will leave you thinking about these characters long after you finish. It is charged with emotion, taut with tension, softened by the love of a mother and her grief. The horror I felt for Abi, hearing updates on the health of her grandchild while knowing that the birth of the baby would mean the death of her daughter—it almost overwhelmed me imagining what that would feel like. How can she be happy about her grandchild when she knows it will mean she has to let Olivia go? Abi was a character that I completely fell for. She is aware of her own shortcomings, tries to do what is best, and stumbles along the way. Abi felt like someone I could know in real life. Someone I may have passed on the street one time, wondering what demons haunted her eyes.
We also hear some of the story from Olivia’s perspective, in the months leading up to the accident. I loved the way these chapters were written—almost like a young adult novel. They had the voice of a teenage girl. McDonald captured the worry and impulsivity of a seventeen year old perfectly. These chapters were so important, because without them Olivia would only exist for us through the eyes and heart of her mother Abi. But Olivia herself is full of life and hope and teenage heart ache. It would be easy to have Olivia sainted through the eyes of Abi, but instead we see her—as imperfect and full of love as she is. With a life filled with potential, taken from her before her time.
I read this book with the 5 of my book besties!!! We absolutely loved it. See my full review here!
Here I am on an island, pretty much all alone. Let’s just say it out loud, “The Night Olivia Fell” didn’t work for me.
I started the audiobook with the highest of hopes having read all of my friends stellar reviews, eager to dig in. Then I heard “the voice.” The voice of “Abi.” She was robotic, perfunctory and just plain awful. Yet I kept going. Even though I didn’t feel anything while reading the book and no emotions were pulled out of me, I thought, it will get better, everyone has raved about this book. Keep going!
I kept hearing about the ending.. how it was shocking and surprising. So I pushed through even though I had a guess, just one, the only one that made any sense to me, and I was right on. Insert big sigh. Alas, here I am having listened to an audiobook with perhaps the worst narrator in history and thinking about the plot of the book which I don’t think delivered. I considered switching to the written novel many times. It was recommended to me and yet, I don’t think it would have helped. I found the writing to be awkward, stilted and without feeling, thus in the end that I just wasn’t the right audience for this book. That said, if this novel is on your tbr, please read other reviews as most everyone else absolutely loved book.
It reminded me that the first hour of every new day starts with darkness - and then the sunshine comes
Abi Knight wakes up during the night to a phone call that something has happened to her daughter. Olivia is at the hospital. Abi rushes there and finds out her daughter is brain dead and also pregnant. Abi notices some fowl play and it determined to find out what happened. The police seem to think her fall was just an accident and try to silence the case. However, Abi needs to find out what happened to her daughter.
Olivia is a normal teenage girl. She has her girl friends and her BFF Madison. She also has her football playing boyfriend but Olivia never feels like it's all quite right. Olivia has never had her Dad in her life because her mom made up a lie about him to push away the conversation. One day Olivia is on a school trip visiting a college and she sees a girl who looks identical to her. They get to talking and it sparks Olivia's interest. Could this be my sister, twin, or is this just a coincidence? From there, Olivia starts to do research and finds out much more than she was hoping for...
This book was so good! I went into it thinking that I had heard similar stories before and it's true, there were similar stories. I also had an idea of what happened to Olivia. The part that really got my was the last few chapters. This book is written in the exact voice real life Moms and Daughters. You go through the typical mother/daughter relationship and I could even point out times when it triggered memories of when I was in high school.
The chapters switch off between Olivia and Abi. Olivia's starts prior to her fall and Abi's chapters start when she finds out about her accident. At the end, the timelines meet up. I personally enjoyed the chapters this way because it kept me guessing at each of Olivia's chapters but Abi's chapters gave me a little bit more information each time.
I just adored this book. It's more of a suspense then a thriller but has thriller elements. It's also heartfelt and inspirational at times. All the emotions and I love when a book makes me feel all types of ways! I will definitely be reading more Christina McDonald in the future!
Thank you to Gallery Books for my copy of this book!
I would call this one a domestic drama or domestic mystery novel with a healthy dose of YA. Though not categorized in either of of my top two genres, I requested it from Net Galley based on all the great reviews. It was the right move.
The Night Olivia Fell is an impressive debut adult novel by author Christina McDonald. Olivia has died (not a spoiler—it’s in the blurb). Was it an accident as the police quickly rule or was there something more sinister at play? It’s up to Abi, Olivia’s protective, introverted mother to determine what happened, as the police do not seem interested in the case.
The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Olivia in the months leading up to her death and Abi in present time. The novel features an excellent twisty plot filled with intrigue and emotion. As the story unfolded I became more and more immersed. I have not often used the word “beautiful” to describe a mystery novel, but it is befitting in this case. We see how far a mother will go to protect her child, attain justice for what happens, and how to let go. Watching Abi evolve was almost as compelling as the mystery itself. The penultimate chapter and the touching epilogue brought tears to my eyes. The author leaves us feeling inspired and hopeful.
In the crowded field of domestic drama stories, I believe this is one worth seeking out. Highly recommended for everyone.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Gallery Books, and Ms. Christina McDonald for an advanced copy of the book. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way.
One of my worst nightmares. Being woken in the night by a phone call that my child has been in an accident and is in the hospital. This is what happens to Abi Knight. After mysteriously falling off a bridge, her teenage daughter, Olivia, is on life-support with brain damage and no chance of recovery. Upon absorbing the shock of this devastating news, Abi discovers that Olivia is pregnant and must stay on life-support to keep the baby alive.
This story pulled me in right away. I had countless urgent questions from the first few pages. What happened to Olivia? Who is the baby’s father? What was she doing out at night on that bridge? The author, Christina McDonald, does a fantastic job keeping the suspense thick and strong throughout the novel. The characters were extremely well developed, leaving a lasting and impactful impression. The dual timelines and transition between narrators were smooth and powerful, leaving me yearning for just “one more chapter”. The last few chapters had me sobbing and emotionally drained. The Epilogue was so very powerful and perfect.
This book had a strong YA feel throughout which surprised me as it is marketed as a thriller. I enjoy YA novels, so this wasn’t a negative, just very different than I expected. It was an impressive debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author!
“What do you do when you know something and nobody will listen? When you need answers and nobody will provide them? When you can’t trust anybody to help you?”
A rage was surging through Abi’s body. Her daughter Olivia was brain dead - and pregnant. Abi doesn’t believe it was an accident that Olivia fell from the bridge - but getting the detectives - Samson and McNally to listen to what she has to say - take her seriously- is like pulling teeth. Whether they help her or not - Abi is going to find out what happened to her daughter. Go Mom!
As the story unfolds - we learn about Olivia’s world. We not only learn about her friends - guys & girls - ( of course suspecting any one of them as to who might have pushed Olivia off that bridge), but we learn what’s driving Olivia into a recent frenzy. She spends a ridiculous amount of time googling a girl named Kendall. There’s a reason.....one she hasn’t shared with her mother - in spite of the fact that they’ve had a pretty close relationship. We also are privy to Olivia’s thoughts - feelings - observations - and assessments towards others - often projecting how her friends and/or mom would think, feel, react, in any given situation. Olivia was a smart cookie - she knew where to draw the line with each of her friends and mom. Olivia anticipated her mother’s worries - and therefore was extra responsible in texting her mother - staying ahead of her mother’s concern’s....giving her comfort-security .....( weather true or false)....when she was away from home. Even straight A students - like Olivia and not into drugs - can become agitated and down right angry. Olivia was tired of being lied to..... which she knew her mother and friends both were doing. But WHY?
Abigail Knight - Abi- is focused on the investigation, yet we get backstory on her life too. She’s the most complex character in this novel. She was an overprotective mother. Insecure with who she was. Her own mother committed suicide when she was a teenager. Her childhood obviously affected the way she was with Olivia. We do witness Abi’s growth and strength over time.
Through the tragedy - from when Olivia fell - Abi discovers she didn’t know everything about her daughter. It was an ‘a-ha’ surprising revelation to her. Personally - I’m puzzled when parents think they ‘do’ know everything about their teenager. No matter how close a mother/daughter relationship might be - they are both independent of one another.
This was a plausible enjoyable domestic thriller. Good - not over-the-top mind blowing gripping - rather it was a tender-heart - mystery thriller through the soul of a mother who loves her daughter.....and vice versa.
Thank You Netgalley, Gallery Books, and Christina McDonald
An entertaining and suspensful read that kept me turning the pages but not one for my favourites list.
Read more like a YA novel, The night Olivia Fell is partly narrated by Olivia, a teenager, and the mystery surrounding her fall while the other half is narrated by her mom Abi. The story is suspensful and every parent's worst nightmare, when mother Abi Knight is startled awake in the middle of the night to a ringing phone and devasting news, her teenage daughter Olivia have been in a terrible accident.
The characters in the novel are well developed and realistic and I found myself invested in the story as the plot is strong for the first half of the novel and the suspense created keeps the reading invested in the story and turing the pages.
An entertaining and well written debut novel but not one for my favourites list.
Abi is woken up by the kind of phone call that changes your life. Her only daughter Olivia has “fallen” off of the ZigZag Bridge.
Excerpt: “ October drizzle coated the car, a handful of brown leaves covered then windshield. The acidic feeling in my stomach clawed its way up toward my throat as I wrenched the car door open and threw myself inside. For once my old beater car started without hesitation, as if it too knew we had to hurry.”
Arriving at the hospital Abi learns that the “accident” of Olivia falling, has left her daughter brain dead, but because she is pregnant (!?) she must be kept on life support to try to keep the baby alive. The silver charm bracelet that Olivia never takes off is missing...in its place, a string of black and purple bruises.
Olivia: (6 months earlier)
Excerpts: “The yellow school bus swayed slowly past the glimmering sea that fringed Portage Point and headed toward Seattle: our day-trip destination.....”
“Tyler had an arm draped around my shoulder, tucking me tightly against his body. Madison was just to the right of me. I felt comfortable, safe, secure in my world. And, then I saw her.”
This would be the day that alters Olivia’s life forever.
The alternating narratives of mother and daughter will continue with beautiful, heartbreaking prose, like the excerpts shared above, as both search for answers.
The two are more alike than they will ever realize.
This was a hard book to put down once I started it, and one that I continued to think about once it had ended.
Emotional and Suspenseful, there were a number of potential suspects, for who else could’ve witnessed, or been a part of, the fall off of the bridge, that occurred that fateful night.
Was Olivia’s fall an accident?
I enjoyed reading and discussing this as part of “The Traveling Friends” book group, and encourage you to read other member’s reviews as well, as this seemed to be a group pleasing debut novel, from the talented Christina McDonald.
I look forward to reading her next novel, “Behind Every Lie” due out in Jan. 2020!