I’m a little particular about the first book I read in a new year; superstitious that it should be a good one to start the year off right. I settled on Falling For You by Lisa Schroeder, and it didn’t let me down. I’ve only read one book by Schroeder (The Day Before), and it was actually my first verse novel. Falling For You, however, is not written in the author’s signature verse style, though poetry does play a role in the storytelling. This time around, Schroeder uses flashbacks that lead to a traumatic event in the protagonist’s life. This hook kept me reading to see how the mystery would resolve.
The cover (and title) suggest Falling For You is romantic and about a torrid love affair. And yes, there is a kiss in the rain, but it’s a little more complicated than that and there’s more to the story than romance. Rae lives with her mother and stepfather and has a troubled home life. To say her stepfather is not a good guy is an understatement. Her mother is in over her head with him and is not there for Rae the way she should be. Rae does have some positive things in her life though- poetry is a creative outlet for her to get her frustrations out, her job at the floral shop and her supportive work family keep her spirits up, as well as her good friends at school. Rae’s romantic life is picking up steam as well, with the new cute boy Nathan taking an interest in her.
Speaking of romance, it’s not all a bed of roses for Rae. Nathan is a little stalker-y and there’s something “off “ about him. Rae’s friend Leo is super sweet though and he really gets her. I was rooting for the two of them to get together though I could understand that her own life experience shaped her romantic decisions. I wouldn’t call this a traditional love triangle, but things are certainly messy.
Rae is a lovely character who is always there for others regardless of her own bad situation. Her home life troubles are very serious but they don’t stop her from working hard at work and school, or caring for others- including total strangers. I like how Rae writes poetry to deal with her financial and personal struggles, though I wished many times that she would confide in one of the many caring people in her life. She doesn’t let life get her down and her strength is inspiring. Rae’s turbulent home life is something I think many will be able to relate to and it’s not often addressed in YA.
In addition to the mystery leading up to what happens to Rae, there’s another mini mystery about a good Samaritan sending flowers anonymously to people in need. It’s a nice message that doing nice things for others can help you heal yourself as well.
The flashbacks work well in the story and flow nicely. I never found the transitions between past, present and future tense in the story telling to be jarring. The poetry works well to illustrate Rae’s struggles and also for fans accustomed to Schroeder’s verse novels.
A sweet story overall- though some of the home scenes are tough to stomach at times, the tone is ultimately hopeful. Falling For You has a nice blend of drama and romance and it’s an interesting new direction for Schroeder.