Published by Macmillan on September 17th 2013
A novel about the end of days full of surprising beginnings
The world is living in the shadow of oncoming disaster. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time; catastrophe is unavoidable. The question isn’t how to save the world—the question is, what to do with the time that's left? Against this stark backdrop, three island teens wrestle with intertwining stories of love, friendship and family—all with the ultimate stakes at hand.
Alexandra Coutts's TUMBLE & FALL is a powerful story of courage, love, and hope at the end of the world.
Tumble & Fall is not the easiest book to read. In fact it was hard work at times to the point where I almost abandoned it. I am so glad I didn’t listen to my instincts. I said I’d stick it out to 100 pages and it was worth the trudge. It was a beautiful, interesting, unassuming read that really captured my attention.
There are three POV’s in this book, Sienna, Zan and Caden and all are in the 3rd person. This was overwhelming at first, it’s hard enough trying to get to know one character but three? PLUS all their families and friends they encounter? I’ve read reviews that said they expected the three POV’s to have purpose and come together and they didn’t – I disagree. I found that each character connected with the others by the end, not perhaps in the most obvious of ways but like I said this is a very understated book.
As is the plot as a whole. For a book about the end of the world don’t expect Bruce Willis to come in and save the day. This is not a story about suddenly seizing the day because let’s be real – do you think you would? Everyday we hear of disasters, horrifying things that happen to other people and we get those thoughts-
– I need to live life to the full
– I need to take more risks
– I need to tell him/her that I love them…
Do we? Not very often. It’s understandable. Life is full of fear every single day not just when there’s an impending disaster. At times the characters seem to be in a state of suspended animation – They don’t do anything wild or exciting…they live and sometimes they simply exist. They fill their hours holding hands, making dinner, chasing dreams and confronting their past just like people do every.single.day. That’s the beauty of this book, it’s almost too difficult for me to put into words but there’s a captivating atmosphere to Tumble & Fall that drew me in to the lives of these three people and made me care about them.
The main theme of each POV is family – the dynamic, the interaction, the relationships.
Sienna was my favourite POV. Recovering from depression, her father collects her from rehab to spend their last days at their beloved summer house on Martha’s Vineyard. Haunted by memories of her dead mother she finds another woman taking her place. Her story is all about reconciling her past and present, rediscovering balance in her life. I loved the development of the relationship between her and her childhood friend Owen, their moments were beautiful and swoon-worthy. There’s a strong emphasis on love throughout her story, how it can bring peace but also unbalance you.
Zan is dealing with her own personal grief. Losing her boyfriend Leo the previous year she finds evidence that the night he died he was cheating on her. As the world prepares for the apocalypse, Zan’s belief system is crushed. Was Leo with another woman the night he died? Did he truly love her? I adored the scavenger hunt she and Leo’s best friend Nick went on to figure out the truth which is something neither of them could ever have anticipated.
Caden’s POV was the most jarring of all three. I connected with him the least to be honest. His story of reconnecting with family members from both the past and present was interesting but creepy at times. His father was almost like a cartoon villain. I enjoyed the theme of redemption however that threaded it’s way through Caden’s story.
This book is truly a lesson in the art and beauty of the everyday mundane. We aren’t going to suddenly live our best lives because it’s ending… because newsflash right now it’s ending.
If this book was a movie – It would be firmly Art House – directed by Lars Von Trier or Sophia Coppola guaranteed.
There’s a heavy strain of denial running through the characters’ stories. The panic doesn’t happen until the end gets closer but again it’s brief. There’s a calm and peace in acceptance which is something human beings do so beautifully when we’re not screaming at each other, when we remember to breathe, when we listen to the beat of our hearts rather than the train of thoughts rushing through our heads. Tumble & Fall is a book that echoes back to a simpler time in people’s lives, a time in between the heartbeats.
The Beatles sang “I want to hold your hand” – A simple, pure, elegant statement – this book is its literary equivalent.