By: Celine | November 11, 2014 | (15) Comments

Review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin BrownNo Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: December 9th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Received in exchange for review
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Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

I’m afraid No Place to Fall ended up being… not my sort of book. I liked its original premise, but ultimately the book and I just ended up not working together. I think it’s a little bit of it’s-not-you-it’s-me and also a little bit it’s-also-a-bit-you. That’s not to say I’m entirely negative about No Place to Fall. In the end, I mostly felt “meh” about it.

One thing I liked: In No Place to Fall, out protagonist Amber has a lot of casual sexual relationships. During the summer, she goes to the hiker’s barn to talk with hikers and also make out with them a little. Later, she kind of casually sleeps with a boy she knows. Thankfully, nowhere in the book did the narrative look down on that. There is a bit of slut-shaming by other characters, though that has nothing to do with this particular boy. However, it’s made really clear that having kissed quite a few different boys is in no way a really bad thing, or somethign you should be shamed for. It’s something that happens. Period.

Now, Amber’s reasons for doing these things might be a little bit… dodgy at times. Mostly she just does it because she likes to (which I’m completely fine with), but there’s also a part of her that uses it as an escape from her home life. And what a home life it is. Amber basically has every possible problem at home: her mother is way too protective, her father is a cheater, her sister is married to a drugs dealer and going down that path herself, while living in a trailer with her little kid. The drugs dealer, Sammy, is basically a complete asshole and keeps pressuring Amber to do things she doesn’t want to. Sammy felt like a bit of a charicature at times. Yes, there is some depth to his character and it’s kind of fascinating to see his “I only need this and this, then I’ll stop” mentality, but he was just so “evil” in basically every way. Over the course of the novel, he deals drugs, neglects his wife, pressures Amber to do things she doesn’t want to, blackmail Amber, make inappropiate sexual advances towards her, which evolves into what could have been sexual assault (he only stopped because someone caught him, luckily very early on). That’s quite a list.

Luckily, Amber also has some friends, both old and new. I especially liked the shy guy, Sean, who was overall very nice. But then this had to happen (in this scene, Sammy is pressuring Amber to sing for Sean, even when she doesn’t want to):

[Amber:] “Sammy, I told you no.”
“You think I listened? I need you, Amber, and you know we’ll be great.”
Sean nudges me. “I wouldn’t mind hearing you sing.”

After that, Amber gives in and sings for him. It might seem like an unimportant scene, but basically what’s happening here is that Sammy is pressuring Amber (once again), who has clearly expressed she doesn’t want to do something. Sean, who is supposed to be her friend, doesn’t stand by Amber and say something like “you don’t have to if you don’t want to.” No, instead he sides with Sammy and also pressures Amber until she gives him. I’m sorry, but this is just wrong on so many levels. It might be changed in the final copies, though, since I read an ARC, I don’t know that.

Now, according to the synopsis this book is mainly about Amber’s audition and her desire to get out of the little town she lives in. Wrong. No Place to Fall is about the life of Amber, a small-town girl, who likes to sing and, hey, guess what, she’s going to do this audition. It did play a role in the novel, but not nearly one as big as the synopsis leads you to believe. I didn’t have a lot of issue with this, but be warned if you really expect this to revolve around the audition. (By the way, if you want something diverse that focusses a lot on audition but also other issues, I recommend Hannah Moskowitz’ Not Otherwise Specified.)

I did have one major issue with No Place to Fall, but it’s very spoilery. The non-spoiler version is: some people act very -in my opinion-  unnatural when something is revealed. Now for the longer and more detailed one:

*** SPOILERS, READ AT OWN RISK ***

So at one point in the novel, Amber is in the bathroom of her friends Kush and Sean’s parents. Alone. She sees a pretty lipstick and decides to try it on (don’t ask me why) and then notices some medicine with Kush’ name on it. She decides to steal the bottle and sell it to Sammy. That’s a stupid decision, of course, but okay, this book is about decisions. A long time later, when the police is involved (!) she confesses everything to Kush’ mother. And this is the part I couldn’t believe: Kush’ mother acts not shocked at all, doesn’t mind one bit, and is all, “oh, we all make mistakes, don’t worry about it, darling, and then GIFTS HER THE LIPSTICK. What!? What Amber did could have (and almost did!) gotten that family in HUGE trouble, because Kush’ name was on the bottle with pills and selling those is highly illegal. Sammy had already been arrested for dealing before, so it’s no surprise he got caught again… With Kush’ name on the bottle. Kush could have ended up in jail and his mother just laughs it off? I didn’t think so. Besides, where were the consequences? Surely we don’t want to teach kids that it doesn’t really matter when you “make a mistake” by doing something that is ILLEGAL.

*** END OF SPOILERS ***

Okay, rant over.

In all, No Place to Fall just left me unimpressed. There were some good sides to it, but overall I just failed to connect to this novel. The things that annoyed me took over the things I liked. I think it’s mostly an it’s-not-you-it’s-me situation, so if you like the synopsis don’t give up on this one yet. I do think it has potential, but overall: not for me.

~Thank you, HarperTeen, for the review copy!~

2 Stars
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Celine is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. Quite obviously, she loves books! She has been a reader for as long as she can remember, and she believes she will be a reader forever. Celine is also obsessed with food, and loves singing along to music as loud as possible, dancing and doodling on nearly everything.

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15 Responses to Review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

  1. I didn’t read your spoiler because I want to read this book and I don’t want the spoiler to cloud my judgement but I’m sad this didn’t fully work for you, Celine. I was really excited to read this book because it sounded so cute. It’s a shame it didn’t live up to your expectations. I’m happy to hear about the casual sex though! Teenagers have lots of casual sex and that should be explored more in YA.
    Lovely review!
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Review : Fractured by Sarah FineMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yeah, I was really disappointed. It’s always sad when a book you’re looking forward to doesn’t live up to your expectations :/ But yeah, I really was happy about the casual sex thing! Finally a book that doesn’t ignore that this is a thing that exists 😛

      Thank you, Nick <33

  2. Sigh, I think I’ll skip this one. Doesn’t seem like I’m missing much anyway. xD
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…ARC Review: Superheroes Anonymous by Lexie DunneMy Profile

  3. blodeuedd says:

    I had to read the spoiler, I am so bad, but I am so curious
    blodeuedd recently posted…Snow White Red-Handed – Maia ChanceMy Profile

  4. I had some major issues with this books too. I coukdn’t for the life of me connect with the story or the characters, especially Amber. Her relationship with charcters and her family, really was so frustrating and annoying that overall, the rating I gave it was probably too much. Great review!
    Emma @ Never Judge a Book recently posted…SCI-FI NOV: GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY of THE JEWEL by Amy EwingMy Profile

    • Celine says:

      Yeah, I just couldn’t connect with it either :/ It’s sad, because that immediately means I’ll care like 70% less about the book and everything that happens.

      Thank you, Emma <33

  5. I don’t know what to make of this book! I was really excited for it – but it doesn’t sound like my type of book at all. :/ The MC seems to have an equal amount of admirable qualities and ones that would annoy me. Hmm.
    Thanks for your honest review! I’ll have to think about this one.
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…Top Ten Characters I Wish Would Get Their Own BookMy Profile

  6. Eh…I feel like I’d be a bit unimpressed too. Especially when I tend to be harsher on contemporaries. Ugh, the drug-dealer character sounds revolting and really quite freaky. o.O And I do feel sorry for Amber. And I DO like music/singing stuff…so maybe one day I’ll try it? IDK. Lots of iffy bits I’m already not very okay with.
    Cait @ Notebook Sisters recently posted…10 Secondary Characters Who Need Their Own Books of Extraordinary FabulousnessMy Profile

  7. alicia says:

    this book is getting more ambiguous by the moment. like, umm, what are you really about?? i do have some fav books that i don’t quite get, but i don’t think no place to fall is a case like that. i would probably be so confused by the end, plus the characters don’t seem very personable!

    *expectation bar slides down….*

    thank you for the honest review nonetheless, or i won’t have any idea what i’ll be gettting myself into! weirdly though, i haven’t seen many reviews for this book around the blogosphere. or maybe i’ve just been too inactive hehe.
    alicia recently posted…odds and ends: starting a book blog?My Profile

  8. Lily says:

    I actually have a copy of this one so I only skimmed your review (since I am reading this one soon and don’t want my judgement to be cloudy) but i’m so sorry this one just didn’t work for you Celine 🙁 It always sucks when a book we’ve eager for never wows us. This one seems like a darker contemporary and i’m curouis about how i’d see the characters and whether or not they’d work for me. Great review nonetheless.
    Lily recently posted…Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements #2):ReviewMy Profile

  9. Oh, darn. Honestly, I only skimmed your review because I hope to start this next week, but I’m sad to see your rating. 🙁 I’m sorry you weren’t a fan of this one.
    Lisa (Lost in Literature) recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: Revenge, Ice Cream, and Other Things Best Served Cold by Katie Finn & Shadow Study by Maria V. SnyderMy Profile

  10. Kelly says:

    This sounds like it could have had so much more potential and is one of the first books to include what are realistic sexual relationships. Of course it happens and as long as teens are being safe and a book isn’t promoting otherwise, I’d like to see more authors take the same road. Teens don’t pash once and fall in love. It’s lust and no teen boy is going to confess his undying love after 48 hours. Pity the dramatics let this one down. Probably won’t bother reading this one any time soon.
    Brilliant review poppet, really enjoyed it <3
    Kelly recently posted…The Bookish Best Of… Pretty Covers of 2014My Profile

  11. Woah what the f, Sean pressuring Amber to do something she doesn’t want to do? That sounds kind of wrong and really annoying. Anyway, I’m glad there wasn’t slut shaming in this book and it was mild in that case, although Amber’s reasons for doing it may be as a reason to escape. Really lovely review Celine!
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…The Maze Runner Movie ReviewMy Profile

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