In the midst of a chaotic midnight assembly, Sunshine is forced outside into the darkness. Holding a scrap of paper scrawled with a stranger's name and address, Sunny grasps the hands of her three small children and begins her escape.
Liesel Albright has dreamed of starting a family. She never bargained on inheriting one already in progress
or one so deeply damaged. When nineteen-year-old Sunshine appears on the Albrights' doorstep claiming Liesel's husband, Chris, is her father, all they can think to offer is temporary shelter. The next day, they're stunned by the news that the Family of Superior Bliss, led by a charismatic zealot, has committed mass suicide. Sunny and her children haven't just left the compoundthey've been left behind.
Now, instead of a baby of her own, Liesel must play mother to the four survivors, while Chris retreats into guilt and denial. For Sunny, however, a lifetime of teachings is not easily unlearned. No matter how hard she tries to forget, an ominous catechism echoes in her mind, urging her to finish what the Family started.
Megan Hart, how you have slain me!!!
I have long been a fan of Megan Hart and her novels. I think she is one of the few authors that I go all 'fan girl' over. I really appreciate her novels and I find her one of the most versatile writers out there. She has the ability to write the most incredible stories in a multitude of genres. Megan is mostly known for her erotic fiction. Some of which are my favourite novels of all time. Her stories are heartbreaking and hopeful. They aren't the raunchy, tasteless stories that are often associated with the erotic genre.
It was in early 2011 that Megan's first non erotic novel- Precious and Fragile Things- hit the shelves. I was excited and nervous about this novel. I knew I wanted it to succeed but was I going to like it? Of course I did. Actually I loved it. Precious and Fragile Things was amazing and you can read all about why I loved it here. With that said, when All Fall Down was announced I was equally as excited about it as I was for Collide. After reading the blurb for All Fall Down I knew Megan had big plans and that she was going to blow us out of the water with complex characters and intense situations.
All Fall Down begins with Sunny (or Sunshine) being awoken by her mother in the middle of the night and being rushed out of the place she lives with her three children and told she needs to leave and go look for her father. A man she has never met and did not know existed. Fleeing the compound Sunny does exactly what her mother instructs and later discovers that she has (in her mind) been left behind.
It's fair to say that Sunny grew up in what we would call a cult. What the Family of Superior Bliss believe is not something that a lot of people would be comfortable with. However it's all Sunny and her children know. It has been Sunny's life for nineteen years and something she was teaching her children. So, when Sunny is forced into the world of the "blemished' she is terrified and lost. Unable to comprehend this new world, and confused as to why her mother chose to send her out into it.
Unable to go back to the compound due to a mass suicide, Sunny is forced to live with her father (Chris) and his wife (Liesel). This is a HUGE adjustment for both sets of people and it was intense reading about it.
This whole book is intense. I don't think Megan knows how to not do intense. I find it hard to write a review about something you really want everyone to read. And I want everyone to read All Fall Down.
Megan was able to convey the extreme emotion of every situation perfectly. Fear, confusion, anxiety, anger, even the joy and wonder that Sunny experiences being on the outside. It's beautiful. The frustration that Liesel experiences when she feels like she can no longer continue with the ways things have been going. Every emotion is raw and it is real. Megan doesn't mask anything, she doesn't make anything seem like something it's not. I really appreciated that.
I loved how this isn't only Sunny's story. It is also Liesel's. Liesel, who longs for a baby of her own. Who is shocked to discover that her husband has fathered a child who has children of her own. All Fall Down is Liesel's story in that it explores her desires to be a mother and the realities of what it means to be a mother and the work that goes into it. It explores what it could mean becoming a mother in your later thirties and how it will change your life. It explores the idea of being a mother to someone who is not biologically yours, and the choice one makes in allowing that someone into your family anyway.
Liesel I think was one of my favourite characters. She saw that Sunny was vulnerable and needed taking care of, and Liesel did it. She took care of her. Even when Chris could not be there. It was incredible.
There was a lot that went into this book. More then I could touch on. I am sure I could have a whole series of posts dedicated to the complexity of All Fall Down. What I can say about All Fall Down is... READ IT. It is well worth it. It's a beautifully told story, that will keep you on the edge of your seat and biting your nails. But, it will also twist your gut and put tears in your eyes. I loved it, and I am sure you will to.
With that said...
~Happy Reading Everyone!