Saturday, January 09, 2010

Fall by Colin McAdam

A masterpiece of adolescent perspective, emotion, impulse, and relationships: the riveting story of two male roommates at a co-ed boarding school and what happens when the girlfriend of one of them goes missing during their final year.

From an internationally acclaimed, prizewinning author, whom critics have compared to Dave Eggers and Michael Ondaatje, comes a tour de force: a mesmerizing novel that is at once a spellbinding psychological thriller and a brilliant portrait of adolescence that goes deep into the heads of two very different boys.

Awkward Noel thinks he's been allowed into the inner circle of his elite boarding school when he discovers his senior-year roommate is to be handsome, athletic Julius. Julius, in turn, cares only for the fleeting joys of teenage life: sneaking out to parties, playing pranks with friends, and most of all, spending the night with his girfriend, Fall. As Noel narrates this fateful semester from a perspective of many years, interwoven is Julius's own in-the-moment experiences of first love and male camaraderie.

Always an outsider, Noel develops an unhealthy fascination with Julius, and his crush on Fall begins to border on a dangerous obsession. As Julius experiences all the pleasures of an eighteen-year-old in love, we watch as Noel self-consciously analyzes his interactions with Julius and Fall, convincing himself of a deep connection that might not exist. When Fall disappears close to winter break, Julius and Noel are forced to face their own inner desires, a confrontation that ushers the two boys out of the innocence of adolescence and into adulthood.

A tremendous literary page-turner that perfectlycaptures the agonies and delights of adolescence, Fall is the exhilaration and angst of teenage love and friendship- and the ultimate transience of those feelings.

I was going to leave 2009 in the past and start fresh for 2010, but there are a few books I read last year and loved. I thought they at least deserved a review. I read this book because it was shortlisted for the Canadian Giller Award. I always plan to read them all, and I own most of them, but my reading always slows down at about this time of the year. Needless to say I did get around to a few of them and this was my favourite so far. There was a time in the middle of the book where I thought it was going to all come crashing down, but McAdam managed to keep the novel alive for me. I was disappointed it didn't win the Giller, but I also haven't read the book that did win yet. If it was better than this one it must be a really great read!

This book takes place in a boarding school, which I have discovered is an aspect of novels that I really enjoy. I am not even sure why, but some of my favourite reads from the last few years have taken place in boarding schools. I thought that McAdam wrote very believable characters that have stayed with me even though a few months have gone by since I have read the book. Even scenes from the novel are still circulating in my mind as I write this review. It is not like it is about things that have never been written about, but it is done in such a way that will keep you on the edge of your seat. While I can not necessarily relate to the experiences that these teens have, I can relate to the emotions that you experience as a teen and are trying to fit in any way that you can. It was a very believable book.

I really think you need to give this book a read. It is easily one of my favourite Canadian reads from 2009. I am looking forward to reading more from McAdam in the future. I think he has a Giller in his future if he can keep up the strengths of this novel.

This was my very first read of a review copy from Penguin Canada. I am very happy that my first experience was a win!


  1. This sounds really good and I hadn't heard of it previously so thanks for your review! I'll add this one to my ever growing TBR list :P

  2. This does sound really good. Thanks for reviewing it here today because I've yet to see this one anywhere!!

  3. You're not making it easy to stay on a book buying ban you know! :op

    This one sounds excellent, and I love the cover!

  4. Yay! I've been waiting for another review from you :-) This sounds really great. I love boarding schools in books, too. I don't know why, either...

  5. This sounds awesome! My mother-in-law reads the Gillers so I will definitely snatch this one from her. Thanks for the brilliant review :)

  6. Great review Kelly. This sound really good! I just added it to my TBR.

  7. Great review! I don't think I'd heard of this book before. I will have to add it to my list as I love coming-of-age type stories.

  8. I'm slowly releasing my book ban so this could be one of the books that I'd like to check out. :)


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