The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
Simon & Schuster: 3/14/17
eBook review copy; 352 pages
The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo is a highly recommended complex family drama about survivor's guilt.
Meredith Oliver is thirteen and in the eighth grade. She and her friends
watch and discuss the popular mean girls at their school, including
Lisa Bellows, whose locker is next to Meredith's. It is a struggle for
anyone to get through the day when in middle school. Meredith's family
is still recovering from the horrible accident her adored older brother
had when playing baseball. Now he's essentially blind in one eye. All
Meredith wants to do is get through this day in October and stop to get a
root beer at the Deli Barn after school.
When Meredith gets to the Deli Barn, she sees that Lisa Bellows is
already there, so she has to wait for Lisa to order her two sandwiches.
Suddenly a masked gun man enters the sandwich shop. He orders both girls
to get on the floor and robs the place. The two girls cower together on
the floor, alternately giving each other support. Before the gun man
leaves he tells Lisa to get up and come with him. Meredith remains on
the floor, completely paralyzed with fear, until a customer comes in, a
janitor at her school, and calls the police. Meredith is traumatized,
trying to deal with witnessing the kidnapping, being the girl left
behind, and processing all her feeling about the event.
The narrative has chapters alternating between two characters, following
the thoughts and emotions of Meredith and Claire Oliver, her mother.
While Meredith is trying to understand why she was the one left behind
and find some answers, if only in her head. Claire is relieved her
daughter was not taken, but struggles with confronting her inability to
protect her children or even comfort them.
The Fall of Lisa Bellow is a very well-written book and was
compelling enough that, staying up a bit too late, I read it in one
sitting. I simply had to find out what happened. Perabo manages to
capture and realistically portray the inner voice and struggles of both a
thirteen-year old girl and her mother. This is a feat in itself. Both
Meredith and Claire are strong characters who are dealing with their
unspeakable mental anguish in their own way. They are also both well
developed characters and strikingly realistic - neither of them are
particularly likable. The depiction of Meredith struggling with
survivor's guilt and trying to process what happened is especially
My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.