Brown crafts a charming and unexpected hit. Readers will appreciate the compelling characters, the humor, and the romance of the novel. Anyone who enjoys the writing of John Green or Rainbow Rowell will find a sense of familiarity in Brown’s writing, and will be left longing for more.
Hits a chord with the dreamer in all of us.
PRAISE FOR NO PLACE TO FALL: “I was completely smitten.
This story is fun and funny with characters to root for (and against). But it’s more than just fun; it’s full of heart. I hope this book finds it way into the hands of anyone, teens especially, who wonder how they can bridge the gap between faith and sexuality.
Joanna has always been out as a lesbian to her minister father, but now that he is remarrying and moving them from tolerant Atlanta to a small Georgia town, he asks her to “lie low.” Initially, it doesn’t seem so bad: it’s only a year until she graduates from high school, and it turns out that finding friends who share her Christian faith is kind of great. Then one of Jo’s new friends reveals that she has feelings for her, and that she isn’t interested in hiding. Brown (No Place to Fall) ably depicts Jo’s conundrum: if she tells the truth, she breaks her promise to her father; if she doesn’t, she risks losing the first girl she’s been serious about. Faith matters in this book, but so do family, friends, and being funny. The dialogue is snappy—Joanna is sharp tongued and sometimes bratty—and the characters aren’t types. Rather, they’re individuals navigating a complicated world, which makes for a rich and satisfying read. Ages 14–up Agent: Alexandra Machinist, ICM. (Aug.)
Gr 9 Up—Brown orchestrates a fast-paced narrative that is powerful, moving, and relatable. Jo Gordon, a proudly queer teen, has recently been uprooted from her home in Atlanta to a more rural part of the state during her senior year of high school. Her father also has recently remarried, is a man of faith, and has asked her to keep her sexuality hidden from the greater community. Jo manages to make friends and discovers an unexpected romance but is torn between love and the commitment she made to her father. Readers are then left to follow Jo and her friends as they attempt to navigate unfamiliar terrain that challenges ideals surrounding faith and sexuality. This work will resonate with those who enjoy a female protagonist who is bold, brave, candid, and thoughtful. The language is realistic, and the author accurately captures queer and Southern cultures. Themes such as deception, trust, and sexuality are present throughout. Brown expertly describes the complex nuances of faith and sexuality. This plot-driven story is humorous, and the characters are effortlessly likable. Teens who root for underdogs will be pulling for this dream team of characters. VERDICT For fans of Sandy Hall's Been Here All Along and David Levithan and John Green's Will Grayson, Will Grayson; this title is a worthwhile purchase for all YA collections.—Katie Flynn, Williston Northampton School, MA
An evangelical lesbian in a small Southern town stumbles on the road to true love—but not for the expected reasons. Rome, Georgia, may be "where queer girls go to die," but out-and-proud Joanna Gordon is spending her senior year there to make her radio preacher father (and his new wife) happy. Although she won't go into the closet, Jo promises to "lie low" in exchange for her own on-air ministry. But how can she keep her word when her classmate Mary Carlson makes Jo's heart ache...and the feeling just might be mutual? Funny, thoughtful, compassionate Jo is a delightful narrator; as she struggles to live her faith, she never considers her sexuality to be sinful. Despite their disagreements, Jo's father and stepmother are loving and supportive; even her wild-child best friend can suffer the consequences of bad choices without being vilified. The frank portrayals of swearing, sexual activity, underage drinking, etc., neither titillate nor condemn; they just depict teens being authentic teens. While Jo and Mary Carlson are white, the rest of their friends display considerable diversity—in not just race and sexual orientation, but also religion, social class, developmental ability, family structure, and personal attitudes—portrayed with nuance through each character's words and actions. A sweet, sexy, honest teen romance that just happens to involve two girls—all the more charming for being so very ordinary. (Fiction. 14-18)