Falling Under is amazing contemporary fiction, but to learn that it is a debut novel for Danielle Younge-Ullman makes it even more special. Younge-Ullman does a fantastic job of creating a broken heroine in Mara Foster. The author portrays Mara’s dark world where she “literally” fears the world, everything in it, and herself, most of all. Younge-Ullman deftly introduces readers to Mara’s past through effective narration, but not necessarily predictable flashbacks. No. This talented author just takes you there in first person present tense. I love that! I write in this technique as well and appreciate the dedication and intricacy of it. Younge-Ullman also utilizes first person past tense and second person for some of the flashback narration and effectively conveys Mara’s pain so well this way. It’s beautifully done.
Younge-Ullman keeps the story moving and readers guessing as to what has happened in Mara’s past relationships, especially with Lucas, that make her so fearful. Readers will be intrigued with the introduction of Erik and the inexplicable tie in their relationship that makes them so dark and needy of one another. The subtext with her best friend Bernadette is also compelling. And, when Mara meets Hugo, it would appear he’s set to be the ultimate hero and rescue her, since he appears to serve so well as the calm to the storm that is Mara. It is easy to discern Hugo’s love for her early on, but Younge-Ullman avoids the predictable cliche of having Hugo be the one to save her. No. Younge-Ullman leads readers further into Mara’s dark past and allows them to really feel her pain for themselves. Readers will come away enlightened as to why Mara’s so bent on self-destruction and, perhaps, even comprehend how it could win out. I’ll leave it at that.
Falling Under is honest, heartbreaking, at times, yet so satisfying. The writing is amazing and so well done that it reads like a sheet of music.
Here’s one of my favorite passages:
“I feel his eyes on me. He knows if I’m here, I’ve done everything I can to still the storm inside, to put all the demons back into their boxes and seal the lids. But sometimes they won’t go. Sometimes my ears are full of screaming, and sometimes, like tonight, the voices are mine.”
And this one:
“You haven’t had his lips pressing onto yours, or heard the deep, low whimper that comes from the back of his throat when your lips move in response. You haven’t had him hold your face in his hands and felt him shudder, and no painful, heated ache has rocketed down from your open lips to your tongue and fired along your nerve endings and made you feel like your body was on fire. But now you have. And the world is a different place. Locked together in a tangled embrace, you travel past desire, past time and age and circumstance, past, even, the barriers of body, to a place where you are together, linked in the deepest sense. And for a few timeless moments, you are not alone.”
Danielle Younge-Ullman is a fantastic writer. And, all I can say is more, more, more!
Author of Not To Us & Seeing Julia