ARC review: We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

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Paige and Theo have been best friends for years.  Both of them harbor secret crushes on each other, and Theo has decided that tonight is the night to let Paige know.  As the two head off to a party, Theo formulates his plan.  Unfortunately, thinking that nothing would ever happen, Paige has chosen tonight to try to get over Theo.  Theo watches as she flirts with one of their classmates, a jerk who knows that Paige has anxiety and a fear of heights and still badgers her to climb up an old, rickety bridge.

Theo’s been drinking, and he can’t take it anymore.  He tries to punch this guy but ends up missing and hits Paige instead.  There’s blood.  Sirens.  Screaming.  Crying.  Paige’s life changes in that moment.  Theo’s life is destroyed as he’s carted off in handcuffs.  They don’t see each other for months.  When they run into each other over the summer, strange, inexplicable things – tied to memories of that awful night – start happening.

First things first, this book has such a spooky vibe and I loved it.  Even the parts of the story before anything really happens, while Paige and Theo are just getting ready to go to this party, have this sort of uncomfortable undercurrent.  Everything is fine, but you can just tell that something horrible is going to happen.  As the story progresses, the author shifts the mood of the story while still maintaining that weird vibe.  I was impressed.

And now my second point. Theo. He broke my heart so many times and just thinking about him now is enough to make me want to cry.  This poor kid just wanted to tell his best friend how he felt and he ended up punching her in the face.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so awful.  Theo clearly feels terrible.  He never meant to do it and would never have done it on purpose.  Honestly, he was trying to help Paige by getting her away from a guy that was dragging her up a bridge even though she gets panic attacks from her fear of heights.  I just wanted Theo to be okay.

As for Paige, I liked her, but not as much as Theo.  Paige frustrated me a lot because she so often wavered between “it wasn’t his fault” and “he’s obviously trying to ruin my life.”  I appreciated the way her anxiety was presented because it was very realistic and not at all overdone, but I didn’t like the way that she kept blaming Theo for everything that went wrong in her life.

I thought that the haunting was very well done.  It was just spooky enough without being over-the-top and I couldn’t wait to find out what was causing it.  Having finished the book, I’m still a little unclear on how exactly it worked, but I’m more or less satisfied with the ending.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call this book compulsively readable. I picked it up with the intention of reading a few chapters, and before I knew it, I’d read over 100 pages.  Twice.  I finished it in less than 24 hours because I just had to know what happened next.  This was my first book by Natalie D. Richards and, if this is what her books are like, it will not be my last.

Final rating: ★★★★☆