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In this gripping debut novel, high school senior Zephyr Doyle is swept off her feet—and into an intense and volatile relationship—by the new boy in school.
Zephyr Doyle is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College.
But love has a way of changing things.
Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and most important, Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.
Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and…terrifying?
But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams, or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty—or worse, ashamed.
So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life.
If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
About the Author
S.M. Parker lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and sons. She works as a literacy advocate and holds degrees from three New England universities. She can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses, and wooden boats. She has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter—ideally at the same time. The Girl Who Fell was her first novel. Find her at ShannonMParker.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Girl Who Fell
Three Months Earlier
I’ve got one foot in this world and one in the next.
Stuck in the limbo of being a high school senior. Here, but dreaming of next year, of college and freedom. Freedom from hall passes, curfews, field hockey pressure, and conjugating French verbs in a gray classroom on the most beautiful day of autumn. I twist a ringlet of my too curly hair and stare at the lone sugar maple in the courtyard outside room 104. It’s early October and most of the leaves have already fired into reds and golds. One mad burst of flame at the end of a growing season. Just like senior year.
A pale yellow finch settles onto a high branch and twitches its head nervously. I watch it scan for what? Predators? Its mate? An early acceptance letter from Boston College? Around me, the room fills with the muffled sounds of students shuffling in. Conversations hush and quicken. The metal legs of a dozen chairs scrape the floor as the teacher writes “Learning Target for Français” in flawless cursive on the whiteboard just as Gregg fills the seat next to me like he’s sliding into home plate. His chair glides a few inches closer and he’s in my face, all shoulders and cologne.
“Bonjeer, Zephyr.” He winks. “Looking good,” he tells me, like he tells every girl on the planet. Even so, a blush pushes onto my cheeks, like always. It’s embarrassing how easily I embarrass.
Gregg Slicer is my oldest friend and a legend at Sudbury High for being the best ice hockey player in the history of our school. And I mean The. History. Colleges from all over the Northeast have been scouting him since our sophomore year. Today he’s wearing his red mesh number 17 hockey jersey and even though I can’t see the back, I know it reads SLICE in oversize white block letters. Everyone in Sudbury, New Hampshire, calls him Slice because the boosters have invested a fortune marketing “The Slice on Ice.” We take our hockey seriously in these parts. So seriously that Gregg’s parents even call him Slice. Me? I’m the sole holdout for refusing to feed his ego.
“Did you—” I start, but he’s talking to someone on his opposite side, someone I don’t recognize.
Mrs. Sarter begins in hitch-pitched French, “Bonjour mes étudiants. Es-vous bien?”
Bien on a Monday? I don’t think so.
Her teacher-speak fades into background noise as I consider the identity of the new student sitting next to Gregg. I lean back and catch a glimpse of the boy’s neatly cropped, golden brown hairline. Huh. I study the collar of his blue oxford shirt, rumpled slightly. But Gregg’s wide frame blocks a clear view. When did Gregg’s head get so big? I lean forward, glimpsing New Boy’s footwear. Faded black Converse. Long legs. His jeans are an Abercrombie shade of worn denim. His fingers drum a tune onto the broad part of his thigh. I fixate on the song he’s tapping. Old-school rock? Black Eyed Peas? Something from the Grease soundtrack?
Next to me, Gregg opens his textbook. The room fills with pages being fanned, the collective hunt for chapitre huit. I flip open my book to a random page, but keep my eyes cut to New Boy. There’s something about the boy’s elongated fingers, the steady, sure rhythm that’s coursing through to his fingertips.
When Gregg drops his pencil and bends to retrieve it, New Boy turns my way, stares at me across the void. His eyes flicker cinnamon brown, like newly minted copper pennies. He shoots me a casual head toss and my breath catches in my throat. Just as Gregg blocks him again.
My head fills with New Boy’s face. Smooth as honey skin. Searing gaze. My cheeks flush, and I’m certain I’m the color of a pomegranate.
“Mademoiselle Doyle?” Mrs. Sarter calls, louder than necessary. My eyes snap to the front of the room.
“Oui, professeur?” My voice crackles over the foreign words.
“Nombre dix, mademoiselle? Quelle est la reponse?” She rattles her throat. Never a good sign.
Number ten? What is the answer to number ten? I search the pages in front of me. There’s a picture of two teenagers at a sidewalk café, each wearing a colorful beret. The word bubbles above their heads tell me they’re chatting about homework.
I scan the page, but can’t find a nombre dix. I’m lost. Totally lost. I look up at Mrs. Sarter and know she’s expecting more from an honors student, even though French is hands-down my worst subject. “U-uh . . . ,” I stutter. The room falls quiet. The clock marks mechanical seconds. Tick. Tick. Tick. I swear I can hear the steady rise and fall of New Boy’s breath, the smile that lifts slightly along the corners of his mouth. Then I hear the admissions board at Boston College, asking me about my goals and aspirations and why I want to attend their institution. Their questions are all in French-that-sounds-more-like-German, unintelligible and alien. My nerves shatter.
My weak voice spills into the still air. “Uh . . . Je suis . . . Je suis . . . stuck.”
The classroom skitters with laughter. In the front of the room, Jeremy Lang repeats my words: “Je suis stuck! Classic!” Mrs. Sarter winces with disappointment and reprimands him. She does this in lowly English, and her scrunched expression makes me think it physically pains her.
Suzanne Sharper’s arm flies into the air, pole straight—the answer practically bubbling off her overeager lips. Mrs. Sarter calls on Suzanne and nods at her correct la reponse. She turns to the whiteboard, writes the answer in measured purple strokes.
Gregg leans over and whispers, “Page eighty-four, genius.”
“Right.” I flip to that section of my book.
“Way to have your head in the game.” He flashes me his press-popular smile, now twisting with a smirk.
“You could have helped me out.”
He cuts his eyes to the front. “Who says I knew the answer?”
“Pa-lease.” Gregg speaks French better than Mrs. Sarter on account of his dad being French Canadian. I straighten in my chair and smooth the pages of my book. Gregg slips me a small rectangle of a note, a makeshift business card. He’s printed FRENCH TUTOR across the front using the red Sharpie marker he carries for autographs. He’s scrawled his cell phone number on the bottom right-hand corner. I snark a glance at him and his self-satisfied grin. Then I can’t help the way my eyes move beyond Gregg to find New Boy’s profile.
I pull my attention away. What am I doing? I tuck Gregg’s fake business card into the pages of my textbook and find number ten. I put my finger on it as if to physically plant my brain in this lesson even as the sentences morph together, indecipherable. My insides collapse into a warm sensation. Can a crush take hold this quickly?
Lizzie likes to say I “crush without the mush,” which is her headline-clever way of reminding me I steer clear of deep commitment in the boyfriend department. Unless you count my two years in a junior high nonrelationship with Matt Sanders, which I don’t. Or going to the senior prom with Zach Plummer when I was a freshman and being embarrassed by his drunk self all night.
But since my dad ditched me and Mom this summer, Lizzie’s worried my inability to commit may have more to do with burgeoning abandonment issues. “Crushing is safe,” she said. “It only involves one person . . . you. And you can be in control.”
I prefer to believe my preference for remaining romantically unattached stems from the fact that I have a carefully mapped-out plan for my future, and there’s no point in hijacking that with unnecessary dating drama now. The best boyfriend in the universe will be at Boston College. With me, next year. See? Perfect. Hooking up with a guy in Sudbury will only anchor me to a place I’ve wanted to escape since I was a freshman. So why can’t I help but wonder . . .
If New Boy smells like oranges . . .
Has a British accent . . .
Plays sports . . .
Has secrets he’ll tell only me?
When the bell rings, I jolt.
“Twitchy much?” Gregg jokes while gathering his books.
I stuff my books into my bag, stand, and force myself not to watch New Boy. I take one last look at the maple tree outside. The finch is gone. A spiral of panic swirls in my stomach. Nothing seems grounded lately.
And then Gregg’s voice: “Zee, this is Alec.” I turn and New Boy appears from behind Gregg like a shadow.
My heart quickens. The classroom goes fuzzy around the edges, as if my brain is only capable of taking in this one boy and nothing else. I try to appear calm. “Hey.”
“Your name is Z?” he asks, with a distinct lack of British accent.
My pride ruffles. “Zephyr, actually.”
His eyes throw an apology. “What does it mean?”
“What does Alec mean?” I counter. I’m aware my reply is obnoxious, but that question has always annoyed me.
“It means ‘gentle breeze,’ ” Gregg says. “But I called her Zipper until we were about seven.”
“Her parents were hippies.” Gregg knows my family story almost as well as I do.
I think of my mother, stuck in her unmovable fierceness, and my father, God knows where right now, and I don’t see a shred of hippie. “They were young,” I clarify. They were only nineteen when I was born. I can’t imagine having a kid next year. Talk about hijacking college plans.
“Well, it’s a cool name,” Alec says. Damn if my blush doesn’t deepen. But something else. Does his face redden too?
“Alec’s transferring from Phillips Exeter,” Gregg tells me.
My eyebrows knit. “To here?”
Alec laughs. “You don’t approve?”
“No. I mean . . . it’s just . . . why would you do that?”
“For Sudbury High’s world-class foreign language program.” A smile plays at the corner of his mouth.
“Sorry, I just meant . . . Exeter is such a better school.”
Gregg laughs. “How long are you gonna dig this hole, Zeph? We’ve got a meeting with Coach.”
Alec’s gaze dips to my chest and I flatten my bag against me like a shield. He lifts his eyes quickly, a blush definitely blooming. “Do you play? Um . . . field hockey.” It’s impossible not to see his feet shift with embarrassment.
That’s when I remember the emblem on my sweatshirt, the two field hockey sticks crossed in an X. Duh. I clear my throat. “Um, yeah. Forward.”
“Zeph’s the captain of our field hockey team,” Gregg says.
“Still, the best Sudbury’s seen,” Gregg adds.
Alec’s eyes widen. “Impressive.”
His acknowledgement sends a shiver racing across my skin, like heat and ice tripping over one another.
“You playing this weekend?” Gregg asks.
“Thursday’s our last game of the regular season.”
“I’ll be there,” Gregg says as if this is news. He’s never missed one of my games. “You coming to Waxman’s kegger on Friday?”
“Probably.” Ronnie Waxman has a kegger every weekend. It’s pretty much the apex of Sudbury’s social scene.
“Come. You can help me show Alec around.”
Alec is cute and new. He won’t need a tour guide. “Sure, but keep in mind, this is Suckbury. You’re likely to be disappointed by local customs.”
Alec draws up the softest of shy smiles. “I don’t know, I thought French would be lame.”
My heart hiccups.
“Look, we gotta see Coach. Let’s roll.” Gregg slaps Alec’s back before he slips out the door. The classroom empties except for me and Alec, and Mrs. Sarter wiping down the board as if it’s an aerobic workout.
Alec takes a step back and motions for me to go ahead. “Ladies first.” He lowers his head as I pass, like I’m royalty. It makes me wonder if chivalry is standard private school curriculum.
Just as I’m through the door, I hear, “Zephyr actually?”
I spin to face Alec. I should respond with something brilliant but my voice betrays me.
“It was nice to meet you.” Alec’s damn shy smile softens his every beautiful feature.
“Thanks.” Thanks? I can only imagine what Lizzie would say if she were here. Not the most memorable first impression, Zee. I manage a nod and dart down the hall thinking Alec’s Zephyr actually was both adorable and clever. A dangerous mix.
When I get outside, Lizzie’s waiting for me in the courtyard, sitting at our picnic table. Her cropped hair looks ice white in the sun as she hunches over the small spiral-bound notebook she clutches with two hands. She flips a page, reviewing the shorthand reporter code I have yet to break. This is her process, the way she decides what story will appear on the front page of the school’s Sudbury Sentinel.
“This seat taken?” I sit, and swipe an impeccably julienned carrot from Lizzie’s lunch bag.
Lizzie lowers her notebook with a sigh. “This place might kill me, Zee.”
“I’m serious. There is exactly nothing going on at this school. Unless I’m expected to use my professional genius to dissect the nutrients in the caf’s tater tots or dig into the bizarre—and might I add—disturbing flirting rituals of some of Sudbury’s faculty.”
“Please spare us that.”
Lizzie smiles, her face softening. “I need to get out of here.”
“You and me both.”
Lizzie and I have wanted to be free of small-town Sudbury since we met in fifth grade. She’s always had plans to be a reporter in a big city. At twelve, she wore a fedora, complete with a tab of paper that screamed PRESS in orange crayon. While other kids played tag, Lizzie taught herself shorthand.
Me? A marine biologist working off the shores of Cape Cod. Or Cape Town.
Lizzie peers over her New York cool black-rimmed glasses. “I hear Sudbury’s snagged itself a transfer student.” She squints, scans the crowd in the quad.
“Alec. He’s in my French class.”
Her mood perks. “You met him? Any scoop there?”
“I’m not trained in human observation the way you are, Lizzie.” I pop the top of my Sprite and it hisses with release.
“Oh come on. There has to be something.”
I take a short sip. “He’s friends with Gregg. Plays hockey. Moved here from a private school.”
Her smile winks. “But you weren’t paying attention, right?”
“I guess some might say he’s cute.”
“ ‘Cute’ does not a headline make, Zee. Rumor has it he got expelled from his posh school for having a girl in his room.”
“I met him for, like, two seconds. It didn’t really come up.”
Lizzie stretches out along the table. I envy the way she’s always seemed so comfortable in her own skin. “But he’s nice?”
“Like I said, our conversation wasn’t deep. He could be a total player for all I know.”
“News flash: All guys are players. It’s called having a Y chromosome.” Lizzie arches her neck toward the sun in a way I never could. Not without feeling everyone’s eyes critiquing me. “Perhaps we should investigate. See if this boy is crush-worthy.”
“In him or any crush?”
“Come on, Lizzie. I’ve got, like, zero time for any of that. All that matters is getting my ass to Boston next year.”
She turns to narrow her eyes, study me. “Maybe. I mean, I get it. But we’re here now and he might be an attractive prospect. He could help keep your mind off some things.”
I shoot her a look, one that warns she’s going too far.
“I’m on your side, Zee.” She throws up her hands. “I just don’t want you to shut out opportunity now because you’re thinking a thousand steps ahead about how your heart might get hurt.”
Lizzie’s been dating Jason since sophomore year. He’s a year older and attends NYU. He comes home a lot, or she goes to New York. Each time they meet up it’s like no time has passed between visits. I can’t imagine getting lucky enough to share that depth of trust with another person. “And how is Alec an opportunity?”
“I’m not talking about Alec, Zee. I’m talking about taking chances. Making this year a little more than doing time.” Her voice softens. “It’s our senior year, our last chance to do whatever we want without consequences. Promise me you’ll at least be open to different. Whatever form it takes.”
I cringe at the thread of pity I hear in Lizzie’s voice.
And her words don’t leave me for the rest of the day. All through the grueling sprints of field hockey practice I can’t wrestle free of Lizzie’s advice: embrace different. But she doesn’t get how hard different has been without Dad. I’ve kind of had my fill of different for a while.
Ugh. Maybe I have turned into a sad abandonment cliché.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book has my heart. Not only is it an intensely-told, page-turning story, it's an important book that shows how easily a smart girl can be drawn into an abusive relationship. There's so much victim blaming and shaming surrounding this topic, so it's refreshing to see Parker's take on the issue. Zephyr is an accomplished athlete with a clear path to the college of dreams and a multitude of friends, and yet the appeal of Alec draws her in. This is an important book about Zephyr's struggle to keep her identity and break a vicious cycle of abuse. The writing is raw and visceral. I loved this book and couldn't put it down!
I like sleep. A lot. So it takes a compelling story to keep me from it. THE GIRL WHO FELL was that kind of story. It kept me up waaayyy past my bedtime. Well-written prose, expertly-drawn characters, convincing setting, love, drama, suspense - this book has it all! Apologies to my pillow for the nights of neglect, but this one was worth it!
A Dark, Unsettling, and Authentic Debut In this strong debut novel Parker beautifully depicts the descent of an ambitious girl who falls for the wrong boy. When The Girl Who Fell opens we are introduced to Zephyr Doyle, a seventeen year old girl who just wants to leave her hometown of “Sucksbury” and move on to Boston College. She daydreams about receiving her acceptance letter and leaving the drama of her present life behind—a father who abandoned her, a best friend who she may be losing, and a small town with the same old faces and names since she was a child. Alec, the new transfer student, comes to her as someone new and different. Initially he is a welcome distraction from all of the confusion in her life, but soon he becomes her life as she drops her friends, her interests, and isolates herself from everyone around her. Parker successfully captures both the subtly of manipulation and the not so subtle toxicity of an abusive relationship. The novel portrays each of its characters with grace and empathy, even Alec, showing that in the real world abusers are not monstrous creatures you can spot on sight, but can come in the form of shy boys who blush when you agree to date them. Like Sarah Dessen’s, Dreamland, Parker’s novel delves into a topic that few wish to acknowledge, thus making her novel all the more important and powerful.
A powerful, emotional depiction of the sweet and slow doses that toxic love poisons girls with. I applaud S.M. Parker for capturing that fragile yet fierce spiderweb that entangles girls and women of all ages. Abuse doesn't wear the skin of a monster, it wears the warm brown eyes with an unsure smile. It pretends to be lost or alone, or in need of saving, and we rise to the occasion, unaware. It slowly erodes who we are over time, done in such deft waves we don't realize until we're too far under that it's been a manipulation. This story was perfectly executed. Read THE GIRL WHO FELL if you're looking for a hopeful light at the end of a dark tunnel. It will be staying with me long after closing the book. If you've experienced abuse of any sort, emotional or physical, know that it does not make you weak or any less strong. There are fabulous resources at the end of the book for anyone who may find themselves in a similar situation. Never be afraid to ask for help. You WILL get through this. Thank you to S.M. Parker for giving voice to an issue that so many young women face. I certainly wish I'd had this book when I was younger.
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Not too long ago I was at the store and saw a shirt I really liked. My body type is what one might call "less than typically proportional" so when I pulled the item off the rack, I knew I was setting myself up for a disappointment. But when I tried it on, it fit. Like, perfectly. Almost as if the tailor had my funky frame in mind when designing the thing. I probably shouldn't be that ecstatic about finding a dress shirt I could wear, but I was because it's so rare for me to find one that I feel so comfortable in. So why am I telling you this? Because I had the exact same experience with Shannon Parker's The Girl Who Fell. I knew what this book was about. I'd seen the reviews. And I was so excited to finally get the chance to read it. But while I was waiting for the book to arrive, there was this nagging feeling inside of me. This little voice that wouldn't stop telling me that my backwoods, try-to-stay-hidden teenage existence was going to keep me from fully appreciating the story. So I opened the book and met... Zephyr. The Girl Who Couldn't Be More Different From Me. Yet I found myself connecting with her from the very first chapter. This speaks volumes about Shannon's writing. She builds the world around Zephyr in such a way that invites you in rather than making you feel even the slightest bit excluded. Every detail pulls you a little closer, never becoming so burdensome that the descriptions feel too intentional. The relationships she creates between Zephyr and her friends are so painfully honest. You're given the full gamut of feels during their conversations, but she lingers on the dialogue just long enough to allow you to ease into Zephyr's life. Before you know it, you find yourself with Zephyr. You discover you're beside her, drinking in every emotion with her instead of simply watching her through the pages of the book. Which is when we meet... Alec. The Boy Who Was Perfect. And he flirts with us. So we flirt back. It's innocent at first, but the more we talk to him, the more we like it. We don't necessarily need the attention, but who does, really? Alec proves to be a romantic powerhouse and before we know it, we're in his arms. And It. Gets. Hot. The pages of the book were practically curling from the steam pouring out of them. But soon after, the red flags begin flying. Shannon works them in so seamlessly that we simply overlook them. Because Alec is perfect, right? The build from this point on to the climax is so subtle, yet fierce, we almost feel smacked in the face with the reality of what's happening. We begin trying to scramble our way out of the mess we've gotten ourselves stuck in, unaware we've fallen so deeply into danger. And when the end finally arrives, it arrives with scars. Because this isn't a fairy tale. It's a story about the reality of obsession, abuse, and manipulation. This wasn't an easy book to read at times, but I'm so glad I had the chance to experience it. I'm so lucky I allowed myself to try this book on because this is a one-size-fits-anyone type of novel. No matter your past. No matter your age. There are moments in this book everyone will relate to. So do it. Try it. Pick this up for... Yourself. The Reader Who Will Most Certainly Love This Book.
The Girl Who Fell follows a girl named Zephyr who is an amazing field hockey player, which is what originally piqued my interest in this story. I've played field hockey for 6 years and absolutely loved it, so I already had something in common with Zephyr. One day at school, a new boy named Alec shows up. He ends up talking with Zephyr because he is a friend of Zephyr's friend. Before you know it, the two of them are falling for each other. Alec is the absolute perfect boyfriend; he's always there for Zephyr and cares about her so much. However, before long, the relationship completely takes a turn for the worse. I think one thing I really liked about this book is that from the outside, it looks like a pretty little contemporary. If you don't read the synopsis, you are going to be completely surprised by what happens and the relationship completely changing and I think that's the beauty of this lovely book. However, even though I read the synopsis and knew what was coming, I still didn't want to believe it. I loved Alec probably as much as Zephyr did. He was so cute and cuddly and was honestly just the perfect boyfriend. Who wouldn't want that? I can definitely see how people get stuck in unhealthy relationships so easily now. I honestly loved this book. Shannon M. Parker wrote a book about a very touchy topic in a wonderful way and I know that I will be recommending this book endlessly.
This was a really powerful book. Shannon definitely wasn’t afraid to show the darkness that is obsession. Thank you Netgalley for providing me a copy in exchange for a honest review. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I did a poll to decide my next ARC, and this one won by a wide margin. And I can definitely see why. The writing, and subject matter, were pretty much perfection. It got pretty intense and creepy at parts, so make sure you’re okay with that before you read this. Before I go into the actual review, I just want to say that I love the cover. It’s what first drew me to the book before I even read the amazing summary. I really liked Zephyr, Gregg, and Lizzie. I also liked Zephyr’s mom a lot. Finn was a great book animal, although it was slight disconcerting to go from Finn being a book boyfriend in a recent read to a dog in this one! Bahaha. The focus on sports to a certain extent was also nice. I’m not a sports person, but it’s nice to see what extracurricular activities characters participate in, what things they love. This book did a great job touching on obsession. I had a bad feeling about Alec throughout the whole book, even from the beginning. It might have been due to the summary, but I think it was just his attitude and things he said/did. I kept wanting to yell at Zephyr to run far, far away from Alec the entire time I was reading the book. Alec was a freaking psycho, and I really hated him vehemently. I didn’t find a book boyfriend in this book, but Gregg was pretty adorable. I’d love to be best opposite sex friends with him. The book was a bit predictable, at least for me. I knew what was going to happen during a couple points well before it even happened. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m usually a good guesser. I mostly just made updates. Here are some of them: “Um yeah, I agree Finn. I don’t like him either…”, “Omg I want to punch this guy in the face.”, “I have a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach…”, “Ahhhhhhhhhh! F*cking creeper!”. But I also made note of one line I really liked: “Darkness doesn’t have fingers that twist into my flesh. Darkness can’t stalk me. It can’t drive me into the shadows because darkness is fleeting. Not like the threat before me.” Final note: Such an intense, rollercoaster ride of a book. I’d highly recommend it.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Holy crow, this book hit a little too close to home for me. I have to say that I had a hard time getting through some of the scenes in this novel. I could feel my anxieties sneaking up on me from previous volatile relationships that I’ve been in. However, I found myself not being able to put this novel down and needing to devour it as quickly as possible. Shannon M. Parker is an amazing writer for being able to tell a story so realistic and compelling about abusive teenage relationships that can really hit home for a lot of young girls, myself included. It is a story that needs to be told. Zephyr, the main character, is smart. She has had her whole future planned out for years. She knows exactly where she wants to go to college and exactly who she wants to be after. She is a star field hockey player at her High School and has everything going for her, that is until Alec shows up unexpectedly and turns her whole life upside down for the worse. The writing in this novel was so compelling and impactful. This topic is so sensitive yet important for young girls to be aware of. She doesn’t make light or joke about the situation. She writes it almost as if from an educational standpoint while also telling a story. The slow build up that happens really makes this novel feel realistic. Parker brings to light a subject that really needs to be talked about and young girls need to be educated on, because abusive relationships do happen. I highly recommend this book to all young adults.
A truly brilliant book makes us feel things. The Girl Who Fell made me feel so many things. It seeped into my dreams, conjured all kinds of long-forgotten images, and propelled me to read late into the night. To the critics who say the book's protagonist, Zephyr, is "stupid," I say, "then so am I." I was Zephyr a long time ago, so much so that I had to close the book a few times and turn on HGTV because Parker's prose was SO spot on. When I was a young teen, an older guy charmed his way into my life. He gave me teddy bears and candy, and made me mixed cassette tapes (it was a LONG time ago), . He sent flowers to the main office of my high school. He called constantly and got obsessively jealous. Things got worse. And then came the time I was alone in my house, talking on the phone to a male friend in my attic bedroom. My ex snuck into the house, picked up the other phone, listened to our conversation, stormed upstairs and ripped my phone out of the wall. Then he threatened to kill himself if I dumped him. When you read The Girl Who Fell you will see just how eerily similar Zephyr's story is to mine, and to so many thousands of other young women. I will urge my daughters to read this book. Then I will tell them my own dark story. They will most likely be surprised, because I am in a loving, wonderful marriage. I am a strong, confident adult. There is no trace left of the young teen who fell for a charming, emotionally abusive guy. It took this very important book to remind me that given the right circumstances, and the right (or wrong) connection, anyone can fall prey to a destructive relationship. And if we do, we need to learn to lean on the people who love us to help us heal. Bravo to S.M. Parker for getting it right and for shedding light on the very important topic of toxic teen relationships.
This book was an intense and compelling read! I couldn't put it down and finished it in two days of marathon style reading. I am glad there is finally a book out there that deals with this important topic, especially for vulnerable teenage girls who may be confused about what is acceptable behavior in a relationship.
Wow! I'm still reeling from this book. It brought up some memories I hadn't tapped into for awhile. I am incredibly impressed with how well the author handled this topic. In particular, she really captured the inside job of manipulative relationships--how easy it is to mistake attempts to control and "get you alone" for adoration and romance; how hard it is to escape because of the second guessing and feelings of shame and foolishness. The story of Zephyr Doyle is a powerful one.
(Loved it so much that I would give it more than five stars if I were allowed.) This is my favorite kind of novel: one I can get lost in; one with rich, believable, authentic characters; one with a main character you can’t help but root for as she navigates compelling crises. Not only are the characters and the story fabulous, but the writing itself is wonderful too: crisp and vivid and a pleasure to read. So this is a win-win-win, from start to finish! Zephyr is a girl we can all relate to (even though I was not at all athletic in high school--understatement!--and she is a talented athlete, I still feel like I can connect with her, can put myself in her shoes). She’s a smart, responsible young woman who has her future planned out (well, as much of it as she can see from where she stands at the present moment), and it’s an unknown variable that suddenly threatens all that she’s worked for--a variable that would have had no impact on her if she hadn’t allowed her feelings (and her hidden desires and longings) to steer her toward it. How many of us have looked back on something well after the fact and identify it as a huge mistake, but while we were in the process of making the mistake (and sometimes that process can be slow and gradual, making the mistake aspect much harder to identify), we thought we were doing the absolutely right thing? (Almost all of us, I'd guess.) Zephyr’s dilemma and the way she sees her world and her choices capture something profound about human nature and deeply ring true for me. The minute I started reading, I felt like I was in good hands, like this author would take me on a journey I’d be glad to be on. And then I forgot all about the author because the story pulled me in so completely. Brava, Ms. Parker! I am already eagerly anticipating this author’s next book: I am sure to read it!
I finished this intense, amazing, harrowing book a few weeks ago. And I've been trying ever since to put the words together for a review. But it's hard. Damn hard. Because THE GIRL WHO FELL is so real, so authentic, and so freaking horribly accurate that it carried me back to times (and a person) I've worked like hell to put behind me. This book chronicles a manipulative relationship, from beginning to horrendous end. When Zephyr falls for Alec, her first real relationship, she does what a lot of people do--she shifts all her attention over to him, missing commitments, dropping friends, spending less time doing the things that always made her happy. It's so clear to the reader that Zephyr is making mistakes--big, dangerous ones. But it's NOT clear to Zephyr, and that's what Parker writes so well. Anyone who's been through a relationship like this will understand. Manipulators know exactly how to prey on a person's individual insecurities. They alter their behavior for each person...what works on Zephyr wouldn't work on everyone else. And that's why what's obvious to readers (and to Zephyr's friends) isn't obvious to Zephyr. Alec is charming. He's attentive. He actually listens to Zephyr, and thus he knows how to reach her emotionally. He draws her in by being 'perfect' for her. And it's important to note that he *is* in love with her. I think that's something a lot of people don't get. Manipulators truly are in love. If they were faking love for the sake of furthering their own agenda, it wouldn't be hard to see that. But the push-and-pull of a relationship (especially a first relationship, when we have no gauge for what's okay and what's not) takes time to establish. Boundaries are drawn and redrawn--we adjust for each other. But Alec knows how to play on Zephyr's guilt and to bargain against her love for him. He knows she'll do a lot not to lose him. And he uses that to push her around. "If you really loved me, you'd..." "I don't want you to do anything you don't want. But if you care that little for me, maybe we should break up." Parker handles the build-up from Alec being 'wonderful and giving' to being 'wonderful and taking' so subtly that it's tough to say exactly where he crosses the line. Sure, we have an idea from the beginning that Alec might be bad news (from the summary, from our history of knowing every story has a bad guy.) But in real life, we don't get summaries. And for those of you inclined to say, "Well, it serves her right for being too trusting/stupid/clueless" ... shame on you. Every person in the world is "too" something. None of us deserve to be taken advantage of because of how we're wired. To me, Zephyr's story rang entirely too true. In fact, I repeatedly had to stop reading this book, because memories I'd rather keep buried kept swimming to the surface. I've heard the same professions of love and gas-lit guilt-trips Alec espouses. And like Zephyr, I felt uneasy or confused or irritated...all feelings I tried to ignore. Because when you believe someone loves you, you want to be understanding and patient and loving in return. That's what the Alecs of the world exploit: trust and love and a person's good nature. Women, in particular, are raised to be polite and caring and to think of others. These are all great qualities, but they need to come with a solid lesson on how to do those things without damaging ourselves. And I think that's exactly what Parker provides in THE GIRL WHO FELL.
Dark, powerful and compelling. THE GIRL WHO FELL is an evocative story about love, obsession and power. Zephyr Doyle is intelligent, ambitious and talented. She lives for field hockey and her place at Boston College, but she’s also dealing with the fall out of her father suddenly abandoning her with barely a second thought. Then she meets Alec – charming, sensitive and passionate and he will do anything to have Zephyr in his life. But Alec is not what he seems, and as Zephyr begins to isolate herself from her friends and reconsider her future, danger is in the air. As a reader, you know where this is heading - you’re almost yelling at the pages to make it stop but a huge part of you wants to trust Alec, and this is what is incredible about the writing. Parker draws the reader in with visceral, lyrical prose and the narrative is perfectly paced. You are living and breathing this story with every word. Every emotion experienced by the characters gets under your skin and you start to realise what manipulation looks like. On top of the rollercoaster of emotions between Zephyr and Alec, THE GIRL WHO FELL also makes time to explore friendships and family relationships. All the characters are extremely well-developed, and I particularly enjoyed the strong bond between Lizzie and Zephyr. Yay for positive friendships, and thank god. This is a thriller that will leave you with your heart in your mouth and your head in your knees. Every bit of you will be flipped upside down as you race towards the climax, hoping, praying that everything will be OK. I say ‘race’ but actually I was desperately trying to hold myself back because I wanted to linger on every beautiful sentence. I highly recommend this book. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Oh. My. Gosh. This book! I started GIRL on a Wednesday night and finished it by the end of the day Thursday. I could not put it down! Shannon M. Parker's written a real, honest, raw, and beautiful debut that will have people talking for a very long time. This is an absolute must-read!!!
This was a GRIPPING, EMOTIONAL, and unforgettable story. Parker's writing along with all the moments of confusion and tension drew me right in and never let go. The characters are flawed, realistic, and authentic. This is such an important, relevant book that I'm SO glad is out there.
This is a fabulous, chilling and important read. Zephyr is smart, capable and has such a bright future ahead... and yet all it takes is one boy and his insidious, terrifying talent for manipulation to potentially wreck all that. The novel is gripping, frightening and frankly quite uncomfortable to read because it's only too easy to believe how Zephyr could fall for Alec's charms, lies and games. The characters are incredibly compelling and sympathetic (big points to the best friend who calls Zee out on her obsession with Alec but sticks by her when she needs her anyway!) The plot is quick, exciting and chilling. And it's such an important book because it charts only too vividly the way an abuser slips in and makes it impossible for you to see what he or she is doing to you. So important for teens, and for adults too. It's a brilliant piece of work.
I was lucky enough to read an early copy of THE GIRL WHO FELL, and I couldn't put it down. It's such an important look at what it means to be a perfectionist, and what happens when those instincts lead you down a dangerous path. Zephyr is not only relatable--you know exactly why she makes the choices she does--but completely real. I fell in love with Alec right along with her, but was also sitting helplessly on the sidelines like Gregg and Lizzie. This book is intense and real, but also extremely important in how it treats a subject many young women face. As harrowing as it was to read at times, I heart this book hard.
A riveting plunge into first romance--and all its dangers. S. M. Parker harnesses the reeling, swooning, all-encompassing power of first love in THE GIRL WHO FELL, sweeping you along with Zephyr as she falls too hard, too fast for the wrong boy--and nearly loses herself in the process. An absolutely vital story for any young person on the brink of their first romance, and a stark reminder for those of us who've fallen before, GIRL is a page-turner with lyrical language and so much heart. Sex, romance, manipulation; Parker manages it all with grace and honesty. From the hooking first chapter to the climax, it's a race to discover Zephyr's fate: if she'll reclaim her friends, her dreams, her life. I was rooting for her all the way.
i read this book at the same time my grandmother read this book and we had a lot of good discussions about dating respect and how friends are always more important than boyfriends and girlfriends, even if you think you are in love. i think the author did a really good job of showing how exciting it is to find someone to love in high school but also not to forget who you are when your dating.
I loved loved LOVED this book. Parker crafts an intense debut that sheds light on the manipulation and evolution of an unhealthy relationship. It's heartbreaking to watch Zephyr--a smart girl with a bright future--fall into a situation like this, but so empowering to see her fight to take her life back. A must read!
This story totally wrecked me. Seriously, there aren't enough adjectives. I absolutely mainlined it, staying up way past my bedtime to read just... another... page. It grabbed me by the throat in the first paragraph and never let me go. The writing is absolutely STUNNING. Honest, raw, thought-provoking, The Girl Who Fell tackles a heartbreaking issue with grace and strength.
I wish I could give this book more than 5 stars! Tension drips from every page of this dark, suspenseful tale of a relationship gone seriously wrong. I'd call this book part romance, part psychological thriller, because we are lured into trusting a certain character along with our main girl, Zephyr, until things have gone way too far by the time we see the very real danger. Shannon Parker's writing is beautiful. Her story and her heroine, complex in the best way. This is a haunting book that I think every teenage girl in America should read. Trust me--try the first page of this story and you'll be hooked like I was. In short, I can't recommend this book enough!
It is a difficult thing to explain to a girl that some people, even those who say they love you, might deep down want to control you and not have your best interests at heart. Luckily, Shannon M. Parker wrote THE GIRL WHO FELL, a story about an athletic, bright girl whose confidence and strength are chipped away by a manipulative boyfriend she meets during a vulnerable time in her family life. The book is a suspenseful page-turner (with a lot of steamy scenes) but feels achingly real. Parker can describe exactly the way a run in the woods feels, or the kiss of a new love interest. The only thing you may not believe about this book is that it is Parker's debut: the writing is superb. Now girls have a compelling story to convey what explaining never can: How the boy you fall for might not be good for you, and to listen to the voice that tells you so. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Harrowing and heart wrenching. This YA novel grabbed my attention from the opening page. Parker does a masterful job of bringing the reader into the mind, heart and first-love of the smart, driven girl nicknamed Zephyr Actually. Parker allows the reader to feel the slow progression from what initially seems like thoughtful tenderness to jealousy to manipulation to something horribly indescribable. Parker shows the reader that Zephyr’s situation is not something that happens to someone else. It is something that can happen to anyone. A thought-provoking and important read that can be the foundation for necessary and often difficult discussion. Highly recommend!