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The Falling of Stars

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When a high school freshman commits suicide, everyone at Liberty School of Excellence is shocked—especially Eve Hunter, who is not only the English teacher at Liberty, but also a friend of the victim’s family. Although devastated, Eve is prepared to offer her love and support.

But when the grieving mother discloses her theory that her son was secretly bullied to death at school, Eve is conflicted. Not at a prestigious school like Liberty, Eve is certain. Regardless, she agrees to do some underground (and possibly illegal) investigating—even if that means risking her career. After all, the pain of losing a child trumps that of losing a job.

Eve isn’t the only one delving into secrets. Her son, Malik Hunter, is a sophomore at Liberty whose perfect life is a perfect lie. Behind his good looks, straight A’s, and the facemask of his football helmet, Malik battles a crippling depression. But someone sees through it all. Someone who reaches out to him on LibertyNet, the school’s online intranet. Someone who seems to know Malik better than he knows himself. Someone evil.

Eve believes a cyberbully may be lurking in the dark realms of LibertyNet.

Malik knows there is.

Unless anybody in this household is willing to reveal their secrets, someone could end up falling over the edge … literally.

264 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 3, 2019

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About the author

Traci Finlay

5 books389 followers
Traci Finlay grew up in the Midwest and transplanted to Florida for college. She received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts with a minor in English, met and married the love of her life and moved to Miami, where she currently lives with her husband, two sons, and two smart-mouthed dogs.

Growing up, she loved reading books, but had a particular passion for mysteries. Throughout her adulthood, she’s taken many writing courses and written three psychological thrillers she plans to publish soon.

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5 stars
107 (62%)
4 stars
44 (25%)
3 stars
11 (6%)
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6 (3%)
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3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 56 reviews
Profile Image for Shabby  -BookBistroBlog.
1,400 reviews735 followers
August 28, 2019
This is undoubtedly most profound, multi sensory experience I've had this year that has left me dazzled and stunned. As I've peeled back layers and sublayers of this extraordinary story in my search for truth with Eve, I'm not sure having reached the end, I'm supposed to celebrate our success or weep with helplessness. For every truth unveiled, there's millions hiding in the dark.
Mind blowing, mind numbing. This is not JUST a story, it's a jarring, gut wrenching lesson about social evils of digital age. It's about wolves dressed in sheep's clothing, roaming amongst us, trying to lure the weak and depressed.
If you want to read ONE STORY this year- PICK UP THIS BOOK!!
The Astounding veracity, the narrative syntax will blow you away! A hard to digest life lesson which ALL OF US MUST READ!!
"That’s what life is, isn’t it?
A series of challenges that you always pass, one way or another. Even if you fail them. Either way, it’s over. But it’s all about taking control of your emotions, not letting your emotions control you."


Watch out for Traci Finlay booklandia, her career is going to skyrocket at warp speed and there's no stopping this sparkling genius of a writer. This is just her second book.........Let that sink in!!
I am in awe!! Legit heroine-worshipping, bow-down state of acquiescence to have discovered & fortunately met Traci. I was floored when I read her first book- The Rules of Burken, but this one has taken a huge leap upwards and onwards.
You won't believe the soul shuddering, very possible scenario when you dive headfirst into this white knuckled, hair raising ride of your life. It's a fantastic psychological thriller that had my hair standing on end THROUGHOUT, my flesh was mottled with goosebumps and an icy shiver danced on my spine from page 1 to the last.
"It’s creepy, though, watching my body heal from falling down the stairs while my mind gets more injured every day."
The plot is scary real, eerily forewarning. This could be happening RIGHT NOW in your community, in your neighborhood, in your district school and **shudders** in YOUR FAMILY!!
As I'm writing I can feel a chill run through my soul....
It's a story simply about a mom. Owner of a ginormous heart full to the brim with all encompassing love for her family, Esp her kids. As I read in Mud Vein, the strings & bonds that join mother and child are permanent and unbreakable, getting stronger over time


A fierce, protective, tenacious fighter of a mom who goes on the hunt for the predator like a tigress, sniffing around the scents, poking around in dark corners, looking for monsters out to hurt the children of her pride. She's Relentless in her pursuit of closure for her friend who lost her beloved child to cyber bullying.
“What’s going on? Who are these people surrounding our children? We bust our asses trying to protect our kids, and we’re feeding them to the wolves.”
As a mom, this part was the most hard to digest, I'm telling ya, it took a big glass of wine to push down the gigantic rock that was stuck in my throat. I just couldn't endure Eve Hunter going mad with worry for her sons, her family, her school, her community. Her sons Malik and Xander are her reasons to breathe.


Liberty High has a monster hiding in plain sight. Using LibertyNet, the school intranet as a weapon, targeting students and manipulating their impressionable minds.
“What if … what if it’s not what you thought? What if it’s someone we don’t expect? Like, it ends up being someone we trusted, and maybe it’s worse than we thought? What if I don’t think you can handle it?”
**(My child's school had a similar Social net and it scared me shirtless every single day seeing my child out there in this open cyberspace, vulnerable and exposed to any hate spewing keyboard warrior or cyberbully)**


"Symbolism. Committing technological suicide before actual suicide.”
It's a heart sinking reality that COULD be a real threat in real life, real soon what with ALL our millennial kids a slave of social media nowadays. But front and center characters are parents. Very real, human parents. They grieve, they fumble, they are strict, they are motivating, fierce pushers and ambitious. But they love their kids. Unconditionally, irrevocably & with all their heart and soul.
The first chapter had a line that just brought me to my knees. I legit couldn't breathe just IMAGINING a mom saying it to her son..... But I would totally say it to my son.
“If you ever do … what Jordan did. If you ever feel like, like that’s what life’s become. That you need to—to do that. I mean, please don’t. I hope you never do. But if you do, just … put the gun to my head first. Okay?”


I've read this book non-stop. Shuddering with sobs, rubbing my chest where my heart is, trying to ease the pain and wanting to hug my child after every chapter.
Pick up this book when it releases, meanwhile I'll shout from the rooftops,blatantly shove it in your faces, shamelessly pimp it to eternity because once in a while you come across such extraordinary story that sinks your heart yet makes it fly.
You're the Bright, shining, Sparkling star Traci ❤️
10 brilliant stars for Shooting Stars and Falling Stars
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Profile Image for warhawke.
1,272 reviews1,909 followers
September 2, 2019

Read my interview with Traci Finlay here: https://wp.me/p5bsdH-2UO

Genre: Thriller
Type: Standalone
POV: First Person - Dual

Liberty School of Excellence prided itself for producing star students. When an unexpected tragedy strike, everyone was left reeling in disbelief, especially the victim’s mother. Eve Hunter answered the mother’s call for help to investigate what actually happened. With her own son Malik as a student, it became a priority to uncover the chilling truth before it’s too late.

I started this book blind and I’m glad for it. I think the blurb says too much and I believed I enjoyed the story better without any prior knowledge.

I’m more connected to him now than ever. I’m drawn to this sad, sad place because it understands. It’s a mental torture chamber full of demons that hold you when you cry, when no one else would bat an eyelash.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book with its never ending heart thumping moments. I never thought a domestic based story could grip my attention as much as it did, but some of the scenes had highly strung tension that I can’t stop flipping the pages.

You have no choice but to do it. It doesn’t make me a strong person—I’m NOT strong. I do this because I have to.

There were a lot of characters that added questions and intrigue. I liked forming my own theories throughout the book. The revelation was not unexpected to me, but it wasn’t an issue because it was done well. I especially loved the epilogue because it was realistic.

The Falling of Stars is a story of a race against time to uncover the truth. It would appeal to readers looking for an engaging psychological thriller.

✨ 🌑 ✨ . . . (F)BR With Twinsie CC . . . ✨ 🌑 ✨

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Profile Image for CC.
1,038 reviews610 followers
September 2, 2019
4.5 Stars

Eve Hunter is a high school English teacher, a wife and a mother of two sons. Throughout her life, Eve has had to overcome certain trauma. When tragedy strikes a student, Eve sets out to help the mother get answers, but it becomes much more complicated than she could have imagined as her sophomore son, Malik, also becomes entangled in this web of manipulation.

“Your mission is set. Will you be a shooting star? Or a falling star?"

Narrated in dual POV, this story unfolds with complex layers and rich character development that leads to building tension. Knowing what is at stake makes the actions that both Eve and Malik take all the more intense. Adding to the element of uncertainty is how certain characters continue to guard harmful secrets.

“There’s no complete healing, but the moment you accept that it’s a war that comes and goes for the rest of your life, you’ve already won the majority of the battle.”

There are many appealing aspects of this book, namely, the quick pace and constant chase to uncover the truth since everyone was a suspect. Eve’s tenacity is so admirable. As for Malik, getting into his head seemed effortless and the difference between the POVs for Eve and Malik felt unique to each. Also, I liked how the local flavor of Miami was included in the plot landscape.

The Falling of Stars is an absolute page turner of a thriller with chilling elements of how a predator can leech into the minds of unsuspecting victims.

*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.*

*This was a (F)BR with Twinsie Hawkey!*

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Profile Image for Lindsey  Domokur.
1,261 reviews97 followers
August 27, 2019
I sat on this review for a day and I am still struggling. This book punched me in the gut. Immediately when it was over I messaged Traci and told her “your mind is a little messed up. You write a lot of creeps.” But as I thought about this, all night and day today, I realized the reason why it hits you so hard is that these things are real life. Yes, they are messed up situations, but they happen. Probably everyday. We are the ones who don’t think about them. We read our romances, we read our fiction, but we don’t think about these things that go on in our world. Traci does, and they are in her heart, in her soul, and she writes about them. She weaves us her tales and tells a twisty story, but the thing is, these are the things that people are scared to talk about. This is why they are so hard to read and so creepy. These things happen. I will admittedly tell you that thought I had this story figured out about 7 times and then it twisted in another direction. I love stories that keep me guessing, I usually am the one who figures things out quickly. This is why Traci will keep me coming back for more, always.
Profile Image for Anne OK.
3,399 reviews437 followers
September 6, 2019
Oh mercy! This one ripped me to shreds with its gut-wrenchingly sinister and terrifying plot that is currently running through our daily newsreels. Evil knows no bounds sending panic into the halls of education and among young students, parents and teachers. Internet bullies -- need I say more? I cried and I screamed at how easily lives can be affected and ended.

Simultaneously painful and an inspiring page-turner. Superbly crafted by a skillful author whose message evokes not only gripping drama, but predictable rage and protective mode as well. A chilling and hypnotic story that deserves to be told. No way I can say I loved this book -- though I definitely appreciated its message and the warnings that it brings to the forefront.
Profile Image for talon smith.
705 reviews113 followers
August 26, 2019
"Your worth is not determined by the lies in your mind."

I think that quote above represents this book for all that it is. The Falling of Stars was a powerful read that goes inside the mind of a mother and her teenage son. Two very different POV's but two people both struggling in their own ways. I know there are supposed to be all these twists and turns within the pages, and yes-- there are, but I think this book was way more than that, whether you liked the twists or not. The message inside of these pages is so much more. 

I don’t like to think that this is the type of world that we live in but I’m not naive nor am I stupid. It is. These types of things happen every single day. To our children, to students, to adults. And instead of romanticizing it or glorifying it with this book, Traci meticulously wrote about this topic with respect and educated writing. She was tender and calm when she wrote from both POV's and didn't deflect from the type of story that she wanted to write.

I thought Traci did a great job at structuring this story. She delicately constructed a story-line that was both realistic and emotional at the same time. A lot of authors struggle with doing that because they add some dramatics but I didn't feel like that was done with this book.  It was a bit wordy at times. I think that was my only takeaway with this one. There were some scenes that went on a bit too longer than I thought they should, but nevertheless, I still enjoyed the book as a whole. 

The Falling of Stars (seriously, when you discover the meaning behind that title your eyes will well up) was powerful, uncomfortable, and meaningful. I felt it exceeded my expectations of going inside the mind of a 16 year old boy and his mother. Even if you don't enjoy or like this book-- I think you will respect the message and the writing that Traci has portrayed all throughout the story.
Profile Image for Nikki.
69 reviews
September 4, 2019
”Your worth is not determined by the lies in your mind.” THIS one quote from The Falling of Stars hit me harder than anything and stayed true to the entire book. But in everyday life also. There is SO much to say about this book!!!!! Seriously another jaw dropping, mind twisted, masterpiece. There is so much compacted into it that it can literally take you days or weeks AFTER you finish it for the impact to truly hit you. One thing I’ve come to love about Traci’s work is her absolute to captivate you through a twisted story about real life situations. There are books that stick with you, that linger and constantly make your mind think and The Falling of Stars is definitely one of them. Every single time i thought i knew what would happen or have it figured out another twist WAY out of left field would snap me back. I absolutely love books that can do that to you, keep you so entranced in them that your mind is constantly working. Traci not only does that, but weaves a world full of things that make you uncomfortable but aware that happen in today’s world. I cannot wait to see what other stories she creates!!!!!!
Profile Image for KDRBCK.
5,463 reviews14 followers
August 23, 2019
The Falling of Stars by Traci Finlay is a full length, standalone novel and hands down my favorite read in 2019 so far.
The Falling of Stars is my second book by this incredibly talented and outstanding author. My first read by her was The Rules of Burken and I loved it so much. With The Falling of Stars she delivers another nailbiting, unputdownable mind fudging thriller of it's finest with suspense that had me in knots til the end.
Meet Eve and her teenage son Malik on the day of a funeral. A teenager commited suicide and both are devastated. What happens next is a twist I never had expected, never had dreamed of but left me captivated and made me read the book in one sitting. I simply couldn't put it down. It's an excellent written, raw and gritty story that deals with sensitive subjects. I started reading and the story had me in tears at page two. I love the excellent writing and the wonderful thought out and beautifully told story.
I highly, highly recommend The Falling of Stars, 6 Stars.
Profile Image for Nicole*bookaholic*.
404 reviews24 followers
November 11, 2021
Wow. This was great. I couldn't put it down. I needed to know what happened. There was so many layers to peel back and I did not expect it to be who it was. Malik broke my heart. Eve's story was heartbreaking. But she is such a strong strong character. Even Ruben grew on me lol. There are some trigger warnings with this book. But if you don't have any triggers I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Paula  Phillips.
4,751 reviews284 followers
September 8, 2019
This had been a book I was interested in reading as it sounded intriguing and also as a fan of psychological thrillers and books about suicide, it seemed up my alley. It wasn't until I started getting really into it that it ended up blowing me away. This book was not only a psychological thriller but it also packed an emotional punch and focused on family dynamics, secrets and it made me wonder whether if we are all pushed to our limits would we overcome the status quo or would we bend to pressure and become another statistic. The book starts off with the suicide of a high school student - Jordan. Malik - growing up was Jordan's idol and so when they get the sad news, they attend the funeral Malik and his mother Eve. During the funeral, Eve is approached by Jill - Jordan's mother and she is convinced someone murdered her son or drove him to commit this act but she needs help proving it. Eve reluctantly agrees to have a look over his Ipad etc and when she does it opens her to a whole new world and dark secrets of those around her. As a mother she is worried about her own son Malik but as a parent, she worries for Jordan and the other school students. As Eve is trying to track down what happened to Jordan, she is unaware the same thing is happening to her own son Malik. Can Eve find the culprit who is pushing the students to die, telling them they aren't good enough? Can Eve do this before her own son becomes the next statistic for Teen suicide? Overall, you might struggle a bit with this read, but it is one of those books whereas a big picture it leaves you with thought-provoking emotions and for me who doesn't normally cry in books - the ending of The Falling of Stars left me with tears in my eyes. This would have to be one of my best reads and most powerful ones since My Torin was released by K.Webster. I am now looking forward to going back and reading Traci Finlay's book The Rules of Burken. Readers, if you only read one book a year - then make sure The Falling of Stars by Traci Finlay is that one book - it's a read you won't regret.
Profile Image for ᒪᗴᗩᕼ .
1,427 reviews131 followers
September 23, 2019


Teen Suicide
Psychological Thriller
More like Under-Thrilling
I actually paid for this book...
...but thankfully not very much


Why does Amazon add genres to the titles of books?  This book's title is The Falling of Stars: A Psychological Thriller.  It seriously bugs me...but then a lot of things do...so moving on…

The Good:

⇢An intriguing premise of Cyber-Bullying...although, the execution was way off for me.
⇢Interesting family dynamic (blended family)
⇢A fairly decent ending…

The Bad:

⇢Unbelievable actions from characters...so much eye-rolling it made my eyes tired.
⇢Despite the decent ending, everything in the middle was very unbelievable to me. 
⇢The actions to the reactions of the characters came off as malicious or generally off-putting.
⇢And last but not least...for a short book, it felt incredibly long.  I found myself skimming a whole lot.

I for real don't get why this has so many great ratings and reviews. I feel like they all read a different book than me...maybe it's a case of it's not me it's you, oops...I mean it's not you, it's me. 


Plot⇢ 1.5/5
Characters⇢ 1/5
The Feels⇢ 1/5
Pacing⇢ 1/5
Addictiveness⇢ 1/5
Theme or Tone⇢ 2/5
Flow (Writing Style)⇢ 1/5
Backdrop (World Building)⇢ 2/5
Originality⇢ 2/5
Ending⇢ 2.5/5 Cliffhanger⇢ Nope.


Book Cover⇢ The only thing it has going for it is the palm trees.
Setting⇢ Miami, Florida
Source⇢ I own on Kindle
eBook Length⇢ 264 pages
Profile Image for Ashleigh.
65 reviews1 follower
May 8, 2022
Oh sweet baby Jesus! This book!!! You want a thriller!? You want suspense?? You want to fall in love with all the characters and have your heart ache for them at the same time? You want something that will keep you on the edge of your seat and second guess everyone at every turn!? Pick this up. Finlay did an amazing job weaving this in and out and wrapping it all up perfectly in a neat little bow. Well, fricken, done.
Profile Image for Sofia Lazaridou.
2,734 reviews136 followers
September 5, 2019
The Falling of Stars is a stand-alone novel and Traci Finlay's second book. The blurb reveals too much in my opinion and it more than covers what I would say to summarise the story.

The main reason for my low rating is a frustration I started to feel halfway through the book. The story is told from Eve and Malik's point of view. Malik is Eve's son with another man and Eve's husband, Alex, is raising him as his own. That created some interesting dynamics in the family and they weren't explored enough. I couldn't exactly grasp what their relationship was. Honestly, sometimes I thought Alex was close to an emotionally abusing father and others that these two had a good relationship. Alex mentions at some point that Malik was not a fan of Xander's cat, Eve thought he was and it was never clarified what was actually true. Eve made him seem like a great and a horrible person at the same time and I was wondering what kind of person her husband was for the whole book. The only thing that's for sure is that he was making her horny. They never had a serious talk about the situation they were in and I wasn't sold on their relationship. The counselor was right when she said that Eve was always taking Malik's side and even Malik and Eve have admitted this. The four of them didn't seem like a family to me.

I know the book is supposed to be a psychological thriller, but I couldn't help but focus on other things. Jill (the mom with the theory that her son was secretly bullied to death at school) is supposed to be one of Eve's close friends and we barely see her. Basically what bothered me the most in this book is the lack of a deep connection the characters had with each other. I felt like everyone other than Eve and Malik, was there to add to the conflict and the problems the characters were facing like they were plot devices and nothing more. And speaking of plot devices, can we talk about how some people confused a person whose father is South American and his mother white with an African-American person? Why was the racism card another plot devise?

The only good part was the cyberbully. Malik referred to the cyberbully as him and so will I. He was crazy as they come, but at least his part of the story was interesting and it kept me from stopping the book. Overall, the book was not for me. I wanted more things than I got and never really got into the tone the book was supposed to have. Another good thing that came up in my mind was the epilogue.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,610 reviews164 followers
September 3, 2019
Traci Finlay puts you deep into the psyches of a mother and her son, building nearly excruciating tension until she reaches a climax that leaves you breathless.

Eve and Malik have been a unit since she was pregnant with him at sixteen. With a later marriage to Alex and a new son, Xander, the dichotomy between mother and eldest son remains symbiotic. She has his back, always, and he knows this. She defends him and is his fierce champion. It isn’t so much that she chooses him over Alex and Xander, but rather that she grew up with him. Their relationship sort of defines them.

Malik, however, has secrets. Eve does, too. You will find yourself wondering how different things would be for them if they would disclose those secrets, even as Traci Finlay shows you the many reasons why they believe they can’t.

As mother and son begin spiraling, their need for each other becomes more essential and necessary, but rather than come together to defeat an unknown force, they retreat further apart. There are times when your heart nearly breaks for them, particularly Malik.

Traci Finlay addresses mental health, bullying, and suicide, and she does so with grace and respect. Her characters feel real. Their experiences feel real. You can imagine the circumstances of this book happening right now.

If the denouement feels a little rushed, maybe even a little too tidily revealed, you might even be a bit grateful. After all of the emotionally taut storytelling, you might need to get to the end quicker.

This is the sort of book that book clubs would devour. There is so much to unpack and discuss, whether from a parenting perspective or as a look inside a teenager. Let me know what you think of Traci Finlay’s thriller. I’d love to talk about it with you.

4.5 stars

Profile Image for Lana  (Bibliomedico).
297 reviews250 followers
September 10, 2019
Check Out My Full Review On Bibliomedico : https://bibliomedico.wordpress.com/20...

I started This Book Completely Blind , Without Even reading the Blurb . Why ? Simply because I wanted to Broaden My reading Genres , So when I read this book is a Psychological Thriller , Immediately I accepted To review It Without any Prior Knowledge .

And I’m Actually So Glad I did That . This Book Was highly interesting , Surprising and gripping .

The Characters , Plot ( Especially The Plot ) , Setting … Simply Everything were really intriguing .

Believe Me guys ! I couldn’t put this Novel Down , even though It’s not my usual reading genre . I kept turning the pages , just to know what would happen next . What I really Liked , Creating all these theories inside My head and Getting Disappointed Each time , I couldn’t expect anything in this novel , which was highly entertaining .

Finlay Writing style is really good , her Words and descriptions are addictive . Definitely , Going to check out her Other Novel The Rules of Burken.

How she Talked and discussed High School Life , Depression , suicide , Social Media Effects on Our lives and Bullying was so heartbreaking yet sadly , realistic .

If you Enjoy Thrillers , This Novel Is a Must Read For You .
Profile Image for Virginia.
709 reviews38 followers
August 28, 2019
This was my first book by Traci and I was soooo impressed!! The Falling of Stars was seriously so fantastic that I read it in one day. It consumed me.

This is a story that is powerful and has meaning. It is told in different points of view- those of a mother and a son both dealing with different things. Heavy things. Real life things that affect many people. If you are looking for a light, fluffy read this is not the book for you. This book is intense. It’s gripping. The realness of it is scary in a way.

I liked how Traci had twists and turns in there and kept me guessing as to what was going on. I few times I thought I had an idea, then I was thrown for a loop. I kept messaging Traci like WHAT??!!!! I kept turning the pages, so engrossed in the story, and before I knew it I was done.

The writing is excellent, the story is obviously well thought out and developed, and the characters were so real and raw.

A book that will keep you on the edge of your seat, The Falling of Stars is an absolute must read!

An arc was provided for an honest review.
Profile Image for Philomena Callan Cheekypee.
3,872 reviews396 followers
September 7, 2019
I read the authors previous book so couldn’t resist reading this and I absolutely loved it.

It’s been over a week since I read this and I’m still struggling to review it. I know that no matter what I say my words won’t give the story the review it deserves.

One click this story and read Eve and her son Maliks story.

This story is in a league of its own. True real issues in a story that will stay with me for a long time. My mind was on full alert trying to think ahead and guess what was gonna happen (without any luck).

This will undoubtedly be one of my top reads this year. A truly amazing read that I won’t be forgetting soon.
Profile Image for Katie.
433 reviews104 followers
September 8, 2019
4.5 stars. I loved the story, message and turn of events for this book. Every turn of the page had me wondering what was going to happen next. This really opened my eyes to what high schoolers deal with now days. Their lives are for everyone to see and talk about. Social media can ruin so many lives. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it!
Profile Image for Erica Russikoff.
51 reviews1 follower
September 6, 2019
I am one member of a wife/husband review team. Here is the review from our book blog shesaidhesaidbookreviews.com.

She said:
The Falling of Stars is the story of what comes after a high-schooler has committed suicide. How it affects the boy’s family, friends, school. And how it penetrates the minds of two crucial characters, the dual narrators: Eve (a concerned mother) and Malik (Eve’s 16-year-old son who also happens to be a former friend of the deceased).

Before Traci begins weaving her suspenseful tale, she gives some really good advice: your worth is not determined by the lies in your mind. This relevant opening is the perfect introduction to a critical and timely story. Depression feeds on self-doubt and a diminished feeling of self-worth. More than 300 million people worldwide battle it. It is in every possible way an epidemic that many of us face.
So naturally, when I found out Traci was writing this, I was relieved. There aren’t enough books that address depression. Sadness, feeling lost—sure—but depression? Not so much. And the way the story unfolds is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The story made me evaluate my own feelings as I evaluated Malik’s; it made me imagine what it’s like to be a mother as I watched Eve struggle between taking care of her own child while still helping others. This book addresses two questions: What would you do if you lost a child? And what would you do if you were in danger of losing one?

What I love most about this story is something I’ve already hinted at—the dual narration. In the 700+ books I’ve read in my life, I’ve never once read one told from a mother’s and son’s perspective. I honestly wasn’t sure if it would work. I mean, talk about polar opposites. Their ages, their mindsets, their responsibilities—they’re all so different, but Traci gets into their heads and shows their thoughts so effortlessly. I really got a sense of who they were.

I also want to mention that when the metaphorical, not literal (thank God) shit hits the fan, you don’t expect the who or what or when. It’s a surprise, which to me is a sign of a successful thriller. Unpredictability = rockstar writing, in my book.

Traci’s previous book—her first release—The Rules of Burken had me on the edge of my seat, too, but this one felt different. This one felt more personal. I know Traci personally, and I could hear her in Eve’s witty comebacks. I could sense her self-challenging in Malik’s inner dialogue. Her experience as a mother who is raising two boys showed, and for that, I’m so appreciative because it made the story feel more authentic and genuine. This is not to knock Burken. If you read our previous review (here), you know Matt and I are fans, but this book just felt different, in a good way.

If you’re a mom or a teenager or one of the 300 million who battle depression…if you’ve attempted suicide like I have…if you feel a lack of self-worth, self-importance…read this book. It’s a wild ride, yes, but, for me, there was also something healing about it. (It always helps to know you’re not alone.) Simply put, this book matters.

He said:
There are times when Erica and I don’t necessarily agree on aspects of books. We bring our own natural biases into whatever we are reading, and sometimes that causes us to interpret content differently. With The Falling of Stars, one thing is clear: we both agree that this book matters.

As a man who has battled depression on and off for the better part of my life, I must say Traci does an amazing job describing what it feels like. I can’t speak for others, but for me, I know I have an episode coming on because one of two things happens: I either start feeling numb to events around me, or I get irritable as all hell. Both emotions are described in this book. It was a powerful moment to be reading a YA/Thriller and then see ME in Traci’s writing.

Erica gave the overall synopsis in her review above, but there was one part that was left out: cyberbullying. This plays a big role in The Falling of Stars. When I was in school, I was bullied all the time. A ginger with glasses and pale white skin, I looked different. But the bullying was done to my face. It helped me build my sense of humor and thick skin. Even in high school, we didn’t have online access to anything school related. This was the time of AOL and “You’ve Got Mail!”

Reading about what some kids go through when they are both getting shit from insecure kids at school and then coming home and getting more shit through online social media, including school intranet-based IM and websites, was incredibly eye-opening. Erica and I don’t have kids. We have a dog and nieces that are both out of high school, so it is fair to say we are pretty far distanced from the world of what current high-schoolers go through. If the events in this book happen to even one person at every school, that is still one too many. This book was powerful to me. In the days after I finished, when I was out walking the dog, I would find myself looking at the kids in the neighborhood, wondering if something similar was happening to them.

What was so astonishing to me is how easy cyberbullying can be—how powerful those little shits must feel behind a keyboard. If you have a child in late junior high or high school, you might want to read this book with them. It could be interesting to get their perspective in addition to your own. The Falling of Stars deals with heavy topics, but I think it would be a fascinating bonding activity full of teachable moments.

Erica mentioned The Falling of Stars versus The Rules of Burken, and I have a couple thoughts. For me, Burken was this rare story of trauma and yelling at the book, “WHY ARE YOU GOING BACK? RUN!” It was unique and unusual. The ending left some of the interpretation up to the reader. The Falling of Stars, however, felt more like a traditional thriller, in that there were traumatic events, adrenaline, misdirection, and closure. Traci’s writing style carried over nicely to this type of thriller; it is clear she is growing as a writer.

Erica and I were talking about how to classify a book like The Falling of Stars. Is it YA? Yes. Is it a thriller? Yes. In my opinion, it is both. I think this is the perfect opening of a new genre, YA Thriller!
One of my favorites parts of this reading experience was seeing Traci’s wit and sense of humor in the story. One standout moment is when Malik, finding himself in a hipster coffee place with a girl he is into, comments, “She rolls her eyes and orders some latte with organic almond milk and raw beet sugar, and I pull out my wallet to pay seven dollars for her glorified fertilizer.” I was drinking some water when I read this line and lost it. I choked on the water after laughing way too hard. We all know someone like this. I can’t wait to use the phrase “glorified fertilizer” with them the next time I see them!

She said:
I loved that part! That was one of many funny moments in this book. Considering how dramatic the events were, I’m surprised by how often I laughed. But then again, it is Traci. And Traci is freaking hilarious.

I’m so glad Matt brought up the cyberbullying piece. It was a huge part of this book. I got so caught up in the mental illness aspect, but cyberbullying is essential to the story. It makes it both unique and terrifying.

Ultimately, with this being her sophomore release, Traci proves that she is not a one-hit wonder who only wears one hat (hooray for mixed metaphors!), but in fact someone to keep your eyes on. Look out, NYT and USA Today. She’s coming for you!
Profile Image for Misty.
592 reviews9 followers
August 29, 2019
Wow. As a mother of a teenage son, or maybe I should just say as a mother, and as someone who has lived through the aftermath of a suicide this book hit so close to home. I think we should all take heed to stories like this one because the events Traci Finlay so meticulously laid out are happening and it's happening more than it should.

The dual POV's between mother and son was the driving force behind this story. The different perspectives and struggles Eve and Marik were dealing with brought a sense of power and urgency that I can only imagine is exactly what Finlay wanted to portray. Power, in that this story packs a punch with its message and an urgency that we as parents need to open our eyes wide when it comes to our children.

The story line was perfectly balanced between packing a punch of emotions and being real. It opens your mind to the dark side of raising children in today's technologically focused world. There were a few times I think certain parts of the story dragged on but then in the next paragraph or two it would pick right back up. There was a enough twists to keep you on the edge of your seat but no over the top drama to make you want to roll your eyes because it's just there for no reason. There are not many authors who can pull that off and I applaud Finlay for doing it so seamlessly.

The title, The Falling of Stars, has so much many meaning when you realize what it means. I LOVE when an author takes their title and makes it something truly meaningful to the story. The story, the message, the cover, just everything about this story is important and I don't think you'll be disappointed if you pick this one up.
Profile Image for Laura Lee.
940 reviews149 followers
October 3, 2019
What an emotional story to read! How the mastermind in this story could get completely embedded into the victim's head and weave the negative thoughts in a way to gut the victim. What a sick sick person to prey on teenagers who are so impressionable at that age.

It's every parents nightmare, their child committing suicide.

Did they miss the signs? What happened in the days prior? Could they, should they, would they... It's on constant loop in the parent who is grieving...

When this hits home with a student at the exclusive private school in Miami, Eve who is a teacher at the school, starts doing her own little investigation as to why did this young man take his life.

This is a page turner, nail biter book!

My first book by this author but won't be my last!
Profile Image for L.U. Ann.
Author 15 books233 followers
November 2, 2019
Holy mackerole!!!!!! She's definitely someone to watch. Her writing is absolute impeccable. I have a huge book hangover!!!!
Profile Image for AL.
175 reviews2 followers
August 12, 2022
Traci Finlay!!!! Firstly, I hope the Stone Temple Pilots know the impact they’ve had on you. Your acknowledgement was beautiful.

Also-you have such an amazing gift for thrillers and riggings of the heart. You’re clearly a mother, because you wrote Eve in such an authentic way, she misses beats here and there (as we do!) but her intent is ALWAYS to protect her family and her community from the evil in the world. Past traumas linger but they never conquer her and her family is living proof of the stuff women are made of. Not easily dissolved!

The teen experiences in this book really hit home for teens, surely, but also for adults. Much of the situations shown felt like the goings on when I was a teen. Pressures, pain, humiliation, pride, shame, popularity, greed, stupidity-it’s all there.

Another thriller with shocking surprises springing up everywhere. But more so, a Traci Finlay thriller-the kind that touches your heart and soul as you connect with her characters.

So many emotions-I purposely didn't read your books to avoid this shit. 🥹🤪
October 17, 2020
Couldn't Put It Down!

Read this in just a few sittings cause I couldn't put the darn thing down! I was completely captivated by the characters and their stories and raced to find out what would happen next. I laughed, I cried, I was moved. What a great story about things that are all too real in this scary world we live in!
3 reviews
April 19, 2021
Search Traci Finlay in Amazon and read any book she has either written or edited. I highly recomend that.

I give 5 stars this book. ANother book I read which is edited by Traci, "The Pink Mutiny". 5 Stars to that too.

Profile Image for Stacy Cannon.
28 reviews3 followers
March 17, 2020
Binge worthy

Loved this story. Will definitely recommend this book as well as all the authors work. Keep in writing! I will keep on reading!
Profile Image for ReadingTilTheBreakOfDawn.
1,200 reviews52 followers
September 9, 2019
All I have to say is that the first sentence right before chapter 1 outlines this book so well......
"Your worth is not determined by the lies in your mind."

Traci Finlay took a thriller and made it her own. This is more YA and I think I'll be able to share it with my oldest daughter. It deals with issues that are so now, whether we want to realize it or not and I think for that, my daughter would like it. Plus, Traci took a unique spin on the dual POV and had it in the mother's (Eve) POV and the son's (Malik) POV. Genius and perfect for a YA thriller, right?
This whole book basically takes place on the high school campus where the teachers and the leaders focus on how well the students are as students and as athletes. These are the elite and someone will go to any length necessary to filter out the weak. And from chapter 1, the first "weak" student was already taken.

Eve and her son Malik have to attend the funeral of a close friend, Jordan. But when Jill, the mother of Jordan doesn't understand the death of her son, she enlists Eve's help in assisting her to find some answers. What Eve unravels is a bunch of lies and secrets in their town. It shines light on her past and makes it difficult for her to come to terms with what is happening in her own life.

Having two children myself, this was a little hard to read. How someone can manipulate another person's weaknesses for their own good. It frightens me to read it because I want to be able to protect my kids. Yes, this was a work of fiction, but the voices were done so well. Malik seemed like a teen and Eve definitely seemed like a young mother just wanting the best for her child. She was looking for answers and kept bringing in more and more sketchy characters, to her husband's dismay.

This book was a perfect "fall" read with football at the helm and a spooky and creepy vibe to it. Traci Finlay continues to write more twisted stories with characters that are for the most part "normal". She leaves us morsels of goodness to keep us guessing and coming back to the story. I was kept on my toes for most of this book and rarely felt the story deviated from the core plot. Ready to guess who's pushing the buttons of these kids? Dive in and get ready to fall for Malik and Eve and their family.

Profile Image for Andrea Phelps.
49 reviews2 followers
January 5, 2020

The Falling of Stars is so powerful! I believe that everyone should read this book at least once! All I can say is.... wow!
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