eBook review copy; 368 pages
Allison Carpenter miraculously survives when her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Rockies and her first thought is to escape and get away from a mysterious person who will be looking for her. She quickly packs up anything she can find that will help in her survival and hikes away from the crash site. Meanwhile, in Owl Creek, Maine, her mother Maggie Carpenter, learns that her only child is presumed dead. Maggie, who hasn't spoken to Allison is two years, knows nothing about her daughter's current life or her fiancé, wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, but she refuses to believe Allison is dead until they find a body. Naturally, the media is all over the story.
Chapters alternate between the perspective of daughter and mother as Allison flees from the crash site and struggles for survival, while Maggie researches her daughter's life, searching for information that may help her find the answers she needs. There are a few brief chapters from the point-of-view of the man looking for Allison. Both women are equally focused and determined to reach their respective goals. Each chapter also provides additional back story to further develop the story and the characters through their alternate points-of-view. We know Allison is very frightened of who may be hunting her whereabouts and pushes herself to her limits in her struggle to survive and escape. Maggie is heartbroken about losing contact with her daughter, and readers will learn the family tragedy that was the impetus for the schism.
This is a fast-paced, exciting debut novel from Barry (pseudonym). The plot unfolds quickly and accelerates toward the conclusion. While there are some predictable elements in the plot, but the narrative steadily builds to a surprising, satisfying ending. The pluses in Freefall are the questioning of love and trust, the observations on mother-daughter relationships, female identity and empowerment issues in society and the depiction of two resolute women from different generations. (I do wish Allison had made better choices as far as finding a job after the magazine closed as her choice was the opposite of empowering.) Both characters were well-developed and you could understand their point-of-view based on their character. The pace is also a positive, as you will fly through this novel without your attention flagging.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.