Review: Behind the Falls by Brenda Zalegowski

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Disclaimer #1: This book was reviewed several weeks earlier by our very own Urania. This is my perspective on it.

Disclaimer #2: The author is a friend of mine, and I’m sure she’s a friend to many of you as well. That’s both good and bad. Good because it’s an honor to share someone’s creative work. And bad because, well, if it’s really no good how do you address that? It’s like seeing someone’s really ugly baby. What do you say? But there are no such book-related worries in this case because the book truly is exceptional on so many levels.

Noah is barely sixteen but yet has faced so many issues in his young life. Burdened with panic and anxiety disorders from a very young age, he struggles with how exactly to be normal. And then his somewhat predictable world is shaken up as his family decides move to a new town. Not only that, but Noah will be going to public school for the first time. Enough to send even the most well-adjusted (if there is such a thing) teen over the edge.

Thankfully there’s a friendly face in the crowd. A hand reaches out to him on his very first day, and Noah doesn’t feel so lost anymore. When Max welcomes Noah into his world, it’s more than he could have ever hoped for. He begins to feel “normal” for the very first time in his life, whatever that word truly means.

Noah’s inner demons aren’t so easily silenced, though. His struggles continue as does his battle to hide it from his new friends. If he could only find the strength to be honest with them as well as with himself, and about so many different things.

And this is where my summary ends. Because to give anything else away would spoil it. And this is a book that you just have to read and feel for the very first time without any preconceived notions or ideas about what you’re supposed to think. I’m glad I didn’t when I read it, and I’m doing the same for you.

So the obvious…
This is a very long book, clocking in at just under 700 pages. And I admit, as have several other reviewers, that the length was a bit daunting at first. I found myself getting bogged down in the beginning, wondering if the lengthy narrative and internal dialogue were really necessary. But I felt a pull, something compelling me to keep going. And yes, part of the reason was because, well, friends.

Still, at about the halfway point I realized that it worked for this book. Noah’s story really couldn’t be told in a lesser manner. The sometimes rambling dialogue is surely reminiscent of what must be going on inside the head of somebody with a panic/anxiety disorder. And more importantly, such detailed descriptions of the characters as well as background info made me feel for them, connect with them on a level not achieved by all authors. In fact, I’m so invested with Noah and Max, even Tabitha, that several days later I still can’t get them out of my head. I want more!

And another caveat. It’s a very heavy book. Heavy on the emotions, heavy on the subject matter. But so is life. Not a reason to avoid it. Still, it’s probably a book that’s best suited for older teens and adults. Now crossing my fingers and hoping there’s a sequel in the works…

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Behind the Falls

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