how to fall book coverReviewed by Carrie Ardoin

I’d guess it would be a little eerie for a teenaged girl who is basically the doppelganger of her dead cousin to visit the town where said cousin lived…for both the girl and the town’s locals. This is just the situation Jess Tennant finds herself in, however, when she and her recently divorced mother decide to spend the summer away from London. They are going to stay in Port Sentinel, where Jess’ mom, aunt, and cousins are from–including her cousin Freya, who passed away in the last year.

While everyone has come to the general consensus that Freya’s death was either a suicide or an accident, Jess has the gut feeling that nearly everyone in Port Sentinel is hiding something–and she’s right. But those who know the truth surrounding Freya’s death aren’t taking too kindly to this lookalike girl probing. But Jess is determined to find out the truth, even if it comes at great cost to her.

Jess is fifteen years old, and an only child. But for some reason, she’s never learned the story behind why her mother wouldn’t go back to her hometown, even though she left her twin sister behind. I found this to be way beyond odd; if I knew my mother had siblings but I couldn’t see them or my cousins, I most certainly would demand to know why. The book does finally give up the reason, although it is not something big enough to justify the mom staying away for so long.

As a main character, Jess is an interesting mix between feisty, naive, and annoying. She does have trouble keeping her thoughts to herself, even when they are somewhat inappropriate. This lack of judgment is at times irritating, because you can see Jess is making things awkward; at other times I respect her for it because saying what she feels means she is standing up for herself. She’s certainly not fake.

The mystery element wasn’t really there for me, although the author did seem set on making it happen. There are several people Jess suspects during her investigation and the author throws in a lot of red herrings for good measure. There are people who act creepy but are not involved, and those who seem sweet but are in fact behind everything. The plot is bogged down by all of this in the middle, and there are a lot of unnecessary scenes. All seems to be revealed in the last couple of chapters of the book.

This book wasn’t heavy on romance, and that was alright with me. I don’t think that just because there is a girl in a novel, she has to be given a male counterpart immediately. Jess is just fine with being friends with the guys in Port Sentinel, though who knows how long that will last.

Although I’m not sure why, this book is actually the first in a series. I’m not sure I’ll be continuing it, because overall How to Fall was just an okay read for me.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Carrie runs the blog Sweet Southern Home, and is a stay at home wife and mom to one little boy. When she’s not reading, she’s usually watching Netflix with her husband, playing outside with her son, or baking. Her family would describe her as sometimes annoyingly sarcastic, but mostly lovable. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.