Falling Through Darkness

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Overview

Ginny can't resist daredevil Aidan—until the night he crosses the line between games and reality. She survives, he doesn't, and everyone thinks it's an accident. Lost somewhere between past and present, she meets Caleb., a much older man with secrets of his own. In richly limned scenes, Carolyn MacCullough debuts as a strong new voice in young adult literature.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny unexpectedly gets help from her father's new tenant while struggling to cope with...

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Overview

Ginny can't resist daredevil Aidan—until the night he crosses the line between games and reality. She survives, he doesn't, and everyone thinks it's an accident. Lost somewhere between past and present, she meets Caleb., a much older man with secrets of his own. In richly limned scenes, Carolyn MacCullough debuts as a strong new voice in young adult literature.

Seventeen-year-old Ginny unexpectedly gets help from her father's new tenant while struggling to cope with her guilt and confusion over the death of her daredevil boyfriend.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In her first novel, MacCullough delicately deals with dark themes as her teenage heroine learns to cope with the death of her boyfriend and, also, with the realities of their often-destructive relationship. In the car with Aidan when he crashed and died, Ginny refuses to talk about the accident, even to her father or best friend. Then her father rents the apartment above their garage to a man named Caleb (when asked if he has kids, he says, "I used to. One boy. Not now"), and she finds herself spending more and more time with him. Their relationship begins to draw suspicion, and although Ginny claims that "it's not like that," her own feelings grow romantic. A series of flashbacks, some flowing into the main narrative more smoothly than others, reveal Ginny's experiences with Aidan. The plotting may be overdone in places (Ginny's self-absorbed best friend is unlikable and without dimension, for example, as is Ginny's actress mother), but the prose attains lovely, poetic moments ("I know you, I know you, I know you, you are mine," Ginny thinks when she sees Aidan waiting beneath her window). MacCullough expertly fleshes out the scenes, enabling readers to visualize the action and to intuit the implications for the characters. Realistically portraying Ginny's intense, dangerous relationship with an abused, angry boy who may have driven off that bridge purposely, and wanted-at least symbolically-to take her with him, the author tells simultaneous stories of loss and recovery. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
VOYA
Although this book is a quick read, it is not for the faint of heart. It discusses important teenage issues, such as smoking, abuse, and death. The transitions between past and present are often confusing, but they are also important. The only problem is that there is so much going on in the story, the reader could get lost and easily lose the message of trust in the book. VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, Roaring Brook, 151p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Stephanie Liverant, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature
Straight-laced Ginny, who is the model student, is drawn into a life of skipping classes, tattoos, and daring car rides with the new boy, Aidan. She can't say no to him, but, in the end, he commits suicide and tries to take her with him as he crashes the car over a bridge and into the rocks and water below. Ginny's emotional recovery is long and slow as she takes responsibility for his death. Ginny's story is not written in chronological order but glimpses of past scenes are interspersed in her current life, a powerful way to show how disturbing memories from the past abruptly intrude on the present. Her father is a stable pillar in her life, waiting patiently in the background and supporting her as best he can. Ginny is attracted to the boarder, who rents the room over their garage. Together they realize that the death of a loved one was not necessarily their fault. Ginny wonders why she was not enough for Aidan to want to live and she finally accepts that there never could have been enough for Aidan. 2003, Roaring Brook Press, Ages 14 to 18.
—Janet L. Rose
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-Ginny, 17, is living in a state of repressed emotion since the death of her boyfriend. She chain-smokes, hides from a too-friendly neighbor, and avoids both her best friend and her loving but cautious father. Interspersed with this clear and compelling portrait of depression are glimpses of her past with Aidan, from the night they first met through her realization that his distressing home life with an abusive father was the cause of his suicide-a suicide that had nearly taken her as a second victim. The book's quiet tone nicely communicates the teen's desperation, although the slow-paced revelations about her boyfriend become annoyingly predictable. A subplot involves Ginny and an older man, her father's convenient tenant whose own bereaved state is too pat. The teen characters seem genuine and varied but the girl's father is the singular rounded and interesting adult. Other adults have brief and unnecessary walk-on parts that distract from the otherwise tightly focused sense of Ginny's isolation. Overall, however, teens will relate to the protagonist's situation.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
This emotional page-turner uses present tense to create a sense of immediacy-and to mirror 17-year-old Ginny's frame of mind as she refuses to think about the past. Four months ago, a car accident left her boyfriend Aidan dead. Ginny knows that she was in the car when it happened, but the nuances and dangers of their secretly abusive relationship are too painful, so she lets her mind float away into spacey distraction whenever feelings or memories threaten to overflow. Her bland façade conceals an expertly written shakiness until she opens up to her father's tenant, Caleb. Caleb, himself traumatized by the death of his young son, is much older than Ginny and an inappropriate object for the intimacy she calls love. No false cheer at the end, but a sliver of hopefulness as Ginny begins to gain clarity and decides to tell her father the complicated truth. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly

In her first novel, MacCullough delicately deals with dark themes as her teenage heroine learns to cope with the death of her boyfriend and, also, with the realities of their often-destructive relationship. In the car with Aidan when he crashed and died, Ginny refuses to talk about the accident, even to her father or best friend. Then her father rents the apartment above their garage to a man named Caleb (when asked if he has kids, he says, "I used to. One boy. Not now"), and she finds herself spending more and more time with him. Their relationship begins to draw suspicion, and although Ginny claims that "it's not like that," her own feelings grow romantic. A series of flashbacks, some flowing into the main narrative more smoothly than others, reveal Ginny's experiences with Aidan. The plotting may be overdone in places (Ginny's self-absorbed best friend is unlikable and without dimension, for example, as is Ginny's actress mother), but the prose attains lovely, poetic moments ("I know you, I know you, I know you, you are mine," Ginny thinks when she sees Aidan waiting beneath her window). MacCullough expertly fleshes out the scenes, enabling readers to visualize the action and to intuit the implications for the characters. Realistically portraying Ginny's intense, dangerous relationship with an abused, angry boy who may have driven off that bridge purposely, and wanted-at least symbolically-to take her with him, the author tells simultaneous stories of loss and recovery.

School Library Journal

Ginny, 17, is living in a state of repressed emotion since the death of her boyfriend. She chain-smokes, hides from a too-friendly neighbor, and avoids both her best friend and her loving but cautious father. Interspersed with this clear and compelling portrait of depression are glimpses of her past with Aidan, from the night they first met through her realization that his distressing home life with an abusive father was the cause of his suicide-a suicide that had nearly taken her as a second victim. The book's quiet tone nicely communicates the teen's desperation, although the slow-paced revelations about her boyfriend become annoyingly predictable. A subplot involves Ginny and an older man, her father's convenient tenant whose own bereaved state is too pat. The teen characters seem genuine and varied but the girl's father is the singular rounded and interesting adult. Other adults have brief and unnecessary walk-on parts that distract from the otherwise tightly focused sense of Ginny's isolation. Overall, however, teens will relate to the protagonist's situation

Booklist

Ginny survived the car accident in which her boyfriend, Aidan, died. Now she's in a dark depression, overwhelmed with sorrow and guilt, remembering her four intense months with the wild, gorgeous guy who swept her away from school, home, and friends. There are secrets: how did Aidan die? But the focus here is less on story than on Ginny's seething state of mind; why is she angry? The brooding becomes a bit tiresome as she smokes and lies awake, but first-novelist MacCullough gets the 17-year-old's viewpoint, haunting memories, and interminable days on the edge absolutely right. The dialogue, especially with her concerned dad and with a kind, cute older man, is pitch perfect, whether Ginny is trying to shock, or, more often, when her words are quiet, "almost what she wants to say." As with all good writers, there's no neat, therapeutic message, and the eloquence is in the space between what the characters say and what they don't.

Kirkus Reviews

"An emotional page turner."

The Horn Book:

"A promising debut."

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761327929
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 10/5/2003
  • Series: Single Titles Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn MacCullough, who lives in the Northeast, is teaching English as a Second Language to adults and children in Sicily. This is her first book.

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Read an Excerpt

Aidan loved night adventures-but not the kind that most of their classmates found in the backseat of a car at Grass Island.
He talked about seeing who walked through the night, who lived their lives while most of the world was sleeping. So she started sneaking out of the house and meeting him under the enormous weeping willow in her front yard. Holding hands, they would skirt the gravel driveway and run through the dark to the bottom of the lane, where he had parked his car.
They visited all-night diners in unknown little towns and sometimes drove into the city. Once they ended up at a Laundromat where an impromptu poetry slam was being held. Sometimes they just drove for hours and hours in his old Chevrolet, singing with the radio. At first she had been too shy to sing in front of him. But slowly, she found herself joining in, if only to balance his off-key renditions of old country songs. "Come on, Ginny, anyone can halfway carry a tune. How many people can sing really, really badly? Try it." And he howled along with the chorus until she gave in.
These night adventures left her sleepwalking the next day, with shadows blooming under her half-closed eyes. But she drifted through her classes with a smile of such extraordinary sweetness that most of her teachers failed to comment on her barely audible responses to their questions.
Her father never left the office before six. This gave her enough time to listen to and delete the frequent please call, a conference will be necessary messages on the answering machine, while feeding the cat and watering the plants. Then, crunching an apple or swallowing slices of an orange, she would make her way upthe stairs, to her little room at the end of the long hallway. The afternoon sun slanting across her narrow bed filled with giddiness and she fell into it like someone who had not seen the light for days. An abrupt exhaustion would surge up, no longer to be denied, and she would fall asleep within minutes.
When her father returned at seven, she was able to present a clear face and shining eyes and answer most questions about school. They usually ate while listening to the radio, sometimes NPR, sometimes a classic rock station, her father humming along with the tunes while she served second helpings of the pasta or curry or whatever she had made that evening. After dinner, her father would disappear into the garage, attempting to repair his battered English Triumph motorcycle, while Ginny did her homework. Finally, she would be able to call good night, close her door, and sit by her window, listening to the house settle into sleep.
Aidan always wore his fedora hat for these expeditions. She watched and waited by the window, slanting back the blinds now and then to see if his shadow had appeared. On nights when she waited a particularly long time, she played a game. If the next six cars passed and none of them had a broken taillight, then he'd be coming in six minutes. He'll come when the clouds cover the moon. She hummed nonsensical rhymes to herself, pausing every so often to listen to the deep stillness of the house, worried that her father would wake and divine her thoughts.
Just when she decided that Aidan was not coming, she would hear the low two-note whistle and she had only to glance out her window to see his shadow waiting by the tree. A thrill, like the first sip of wine slipping through her.
I know you, I know you, I know you, you are mine.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    from Missprint DOT wordpress DOT com

    Seventeen-year-old Ginny's life feels like a waking dream. Or maybe a nightmare. It all seemed so different when Aidan first came crashing into her life.

    Beautiful, vivid, reckless Aidan is nothing like Ginny--a quiet, good girl more comfortable blending in than standing out. But Aidan makes Ginny different. He makes her want more. Makes her feel more. In the end, he makes her feel too much.

    There was a crash. Something everyone else is calling an accident. Aidan is gone. But Ginny is left behind to piece together the shattered moments of her life with, and now without, him in Falling Through Darkness (2003) by Carolyn MacCullough.

    Falling Through Darkness is MacCullough's haunting first novel. This is a story about depression and falling apart, but it is also a story about grieving and acceptance. Ginny would be perfectly happy to stay in this fugue state, sleepwalking through life. That is until a new tenant moves in forcing Ginny to confront all the things she knows about Aidan, and the accident, but never wanted to admit to anyone--especially herself.

    Ginny's depression after the accident is palpable in MacCullough's writing. Equally compelling are her portrayals of Aidan's frenetic energy. Even when Ginny falls into his dangerous habits it's easy to understand how she would be sucked into his jet stream. The story shifts seamlessly between Ginny's present and memories of meeting Aidan and their subsequent, whirlwind, relationship with writing that is evocative and beautiful.

    Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell, My Private Nation (album and single) by Train

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 13, 2005

    Great Quick Read

    This book is awesome. It's a really quick read but it's worth every minuite. I reccomend this is all teens, trying to find who they are and also trying to find love.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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