Review: Tanya Chris – When It All Falls Down

when it allAuthor: Tanya Chris
Reviewer: Lucy
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Mm Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Summary: Maybe Charlie should have waited until he graduated high school before coming out, because since that revelation there’s been a growing distance between him and his friends. Charlie’s tough, though. He doesn’t mind eating lunch alone or watching his former gang interact with their new best buddy. What he does mind is seeing Drew Lavoitt suffer the same fate.

Drew didn’t come out. As far as he, or anyone else knows, he’s straight. What Drew did is accidentally hit and kill a little girl. Now the boy who was voted Most Popular, and who Charlie has maybe had a crush on since eighth grade, faces financial ruin, expulsion, and the fear that if he’s not everything, he’s not enough.

Popularity, wealth, acclaim—these things are easily lost. In each other’s arms, Drew and Charlie find something that can’t be taken from them. Together the two build a foundation on which they can re-create their lives.

Review: Charlie is a very self-assured, focused guy who knows what he wants and where he’s going in life. I felt the fact that this is told in first person by Charlie completely fits his personality. He sort of views himself as a geek but Charlie is really confident. He may be only 18 and a high school senior, but he’s not going to hide himself for anyone. Of course, the fact that once he came out in senior year he suddenly no longer hangs out with his group of friends, even his best friend, makes that a little difficult but hey, high school is nearly over and he’ll be going to college. It’s okay. He can be an island for a few months.

What is not okay if seeing Andrew Lavoitt, Most Popular Boy, the one everyone likes and everyone wants to talk to, being an island. That is unacceptable, so Charlie makes the effort in Calculus to go over and talk to Andrew. Andrew was driving one day and accidentally hit and killed a little girl. Complete accident, yes, but he feels huge amounts of guilt about it. Plus, people talk and because his family has money they tend to think he doesn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Charlie starts off his talk with Andrew with a lie about gaming systems, mainly because he’s also had a bit of a crush on Andrew since they were kids so he’s a little nervous. But he can’t stand to see it. “The world had taken Really Perfect Guy out of his box and thrown him down on the ground and walked away.” Charlie doesn’t like that one bit. It takes a bit of effort but Charlie manages to get Andrew, who he calls Drew, smiling a little and talking some. Drew really is paying emotionally for that accident and he’s not able to drive, face people, do things. He’s dropped out of all clubs, no longer talks to his friends, just feels he doesn’t deserve to be happy. It’s so sad and so realistic.
Something I absolutely loved about this book was the families of both Drew and Charlie. They aren’t perfect by any means but they love their sons and they are trying. When Charlie brings Drew over for the first time he makes a point to tell his mom and his little brother, Noah, not to be weird around Drew. The visit starts off with Noah noticing who Drew is and Drew withdrawing back into himself and Charlie “… wondering if it I’d made a mistake bringing him here.” It ends with Noah being obnoxious and getting a face full of rug, with Charlie later, “Thanks for being nice to him. I mean, horrible. Thanks for being horrible to him.” Drew’s family is a different in that they don’t know what to say to make Drew come back to them. They are pathetically grateful for Charlie.
At first, I couldn’t decide – is Drew gay or is he, like Charlie’s mom thinks, just depending on Charlie and once his life comes back together will he go back to the straight life he had before. “You think Drew’s only with me because he’s depressed? ….You don’t think he likes me? Why wouldn’t he like me? I’m not good enough to date him unless he’s damaged?” But as the story progresses, you don’t feel like that anymore. Drew might not have been out before, but he knows who he is. “Oh my God, stop. You’re not gay enough to be such a drama queen.” But he is gay, enough.

Despite the serious tone of the book, the angst level is not over the top. There is a somber quality to portions of it, which there has to be due to the backdrop of Drew’s accident, but there is also some lightness and honestly, some misunderstandings between friends that seemed totally realistic, particularly when you remember that these are high school students. Despite Charlie’s seemingly incredible maturity (come on, the man was hitting up Grindr in high school). Charlie’s separation from his friends plays into things as well and it’s here that you get the view of him as he is – an 18-year-old high school student who’s maybe a little insecure.

There were times I just loved how people talked. “I mean, I’m useless in an actual fight, but I’d have stood next to you while you got beat up.” Now, that’s a realistic friend. There is a lot for Drew to face, both related to the accident and within himself and it’s a little painful to read but it’s so worth it.

I loved them together. Yes, I know they are young, just out of high school, but there is hope and promise here, even as Charlie is so afraid of what will happen once they are off to different states for college. It’s the journey that makes this worth it.

This is a new to me author and I went back and forth on what to rate this; 4? 4.5? Is it a perfect book? Then I realized that I started it and stayed up until 3 in the morning to finish it, then went back the next day to make sure I didn’t miss anything. So there was nothing I could do but rate it 5 hearts, something I do so rarely. YA fans, especially, so highly recommended.



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