It’s the worst day of his life, a life that may now be cut terribly short, but an impromptu stop at a diner brings a chatty, colorful, eccentric ray of hope. She’s a girl who knows how to live, who makes him want to live, and with spilled coffee and a ruined sandwich, he just may have something to live for.
The Verdict: According to Amazon, I bought this book about seven months ago and then sat on it. I have no idea why. It’s a quick read and a really sweet story, so I’m kind of kicking myself for leaving it buried on my Kindle for so long.
As sad as Oliver’s situation is, dealing with cancer and all that mess, there’s nothing really depressing about the story. It’s strange, but the way it was written was less about facing death and more about looking at life differently, seeing things that were once so guaranteed now possibly fleeting but holding onto other moments because they suddenly had so much meaning. And Hannah was just perfect for that.
She’s definitely an oddball, someone who doesn’t seem to worry about how the world sees her, someone who derives happiness from little things and lives in the moment. And that’s exactly what Oliver needed, since he didn’t know how many moments he had left. She managed to take care of him while he was sick, all the while treating him as if he wasn’t. And while she was clearly devoted to him, she didn’t pull that putting-her-life-on-hold thing that I normally see in books. It was as if continuing her life while loving him was some kind of confirmation that his wasn’t over either, and it gave a whole new depth to their relationship.
I have to say, though, that I was a little disappointed in her reaction when they had a falling out, that she would question their relationship because she only ever knew him as someone who was sick. I expected more from her. After all, she’d been by his side through it all, pushing him to want to fight and live, and for her to wonder if it was real once things were looking up… Well, that didn’t sit well with me. But maybe that just makes her human after all. For all the zest for life and beyond-her-years maturity she showed when he was at his worst, perhaps the insecure teenage girl needed to peek her head out when the coast was finally clear.
When We Fell packs quite a punch for such a short story, and while the invisible antagonist is cancer, the journey isn’t a dark one. It’s an achingly sweet young love story that treks through a myriad of emotions — fear, sadness, numbness, despair, of course. But also the normal young adult feelings — love, insecurity, jealousy, and most of all hope.