Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman is the story of Mara Foster, a troubled artist living in Toronto. Having survived a tumultuous childhood in which her divorced parents expended so much energy loathing each other that they didnít have much time for their daughter, a childhood in which she took her first lover Ė a 34-year-old artist Ė at the tender age of 16, she still hasnít quite figured out how to live life on a daily basis. As she struggles to get through each day, she meets a man named Hugo who is everything she could want in a man Ė except she canít seem to let him in. As she finds herself falling in love, Maraís world begins to break down. She, along with the reader, sees all the events that have damaged her to this extent and tries to pull herself out of the darkness that threatens to consume her.
The novel is told through flashbacks, taking the reader from Maraís present relationship with Hugo through her past. From her broken home to her college boyfriend, the reader begins to understand why Mara is damaged through these peeks into her life. It is completely effective and much more captivating than if the story had been told in chronological order.
Falling Under really is an astonishing debut novel reminiscent of Janet Fitchís bestselling debut, White Oleander. It is dark and edgy; this is definitely not a beach read. The intensity of despair that the author portrays in Maraís day-to-day life is astonishing yet captivating. Though Mara is a damaged character, the reader never gets the sense that she feels sorry for herself. She seems to be wading through a sea of darkness, yet throughout the novel there is hope. Mara sincerely wishes to emerge from her state of constant angst, to rise above it and live and laugh. Even in the darkest parts of the novel, that light never ceases to be ever-present.
The writing in Falling Under really is amazing, some of the passages so beautiful that they hurt. Younge-Ullman has a talent for turning the shadows of life into a thing of beauty, almost poetry. Even if the blurb on the back of the book doesnít captivate you, the desire to read the authorís incredible writing should.
I donít want to say too much about the ending of Falling Under because I donít want to risk spoiling this beautiful book, but I can just say that it will give you something to think about. If you choose this book for a book club, which I would recommend, this is a topic you could easily devote half of your time to Ė it definitely has the ability to provoke a strong reaction fr0m readers.
In short, Falling Under is an amazing read. The darkness that it contains is captivating, but it isnít until you finish it that you realize how much light is contained within as well. This intense book will leave readers wanting much more from Danielle Younge-Ullman; I canít wait to see what she comes up with next.