Review: Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website: 
A young adult novel about a teen who finds hope and a fresh start after a terrible loss, and learns that being strong means letting go.

When Max Friedman’s mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his brain. It's a terrible tenant―isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality.

Finally, Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet where he becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings―until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how hard it is to let go of the past. At turns lyrical, haunting, and triumphant, Ready to Fall is a story of grief, love, rebellion and starting fresh from acclaimed author Marcella Pixley.

I've wanted to try Marcella Pixley's books for a while now. Therefore, when the opportunity arose to read and review Ready to Fall, her latest addition to YA contemporary, I instantly said yes. I loved the title, I loved the cover, and the premise sounded intriguing albeit heartbreaking. 

The Result? Ready to Fall is amazing - one of my favorite YA contemporaries of the year. It's gorgeously written, captivating, and poignant. 

I'll be up front: Ready to Fall is not an easy read by any means. It's haunting. It's emotional. It's even a bit draining. Marcella Pixley brings to life Max's sadness, confusion, and hurt. My heart broke for him, but at the same time, I could feel the hope slowly building, the good starting to replace the bad, and that gradual transition and fresh start,my friends, is what made Ready to Fall such a worthwhile read. 

When we're first introduced to Max he's a disaster. He's failing school, drawing rather than listening during his classes, and distancing himself from his father. His only constant companion is the tumor inside of his head, the one that jumped from his mother's head to his during the funeral. He knows he's off his rocker, that he may in fact be going nuts, but he can't stop it or ask for help.

At first, I struggled with Max's character. I understand that coping takes many different forms, but I just wished Max would reach out and get help. It broke my heart that he was in such a rough place. As soon as he starts his new school, everything begins to change for Max. He starts opening up and trying new things. He makes new friends and even forms a mentor-mentee relationship with one of the teachers. This transition was gradual yet so amazing and worthwhile to see. I loved seeing his friendships with Fish and the Monk develop as well as seeing him begin to fit in at his new school. 

Last but not least, the writing. Marcella Pixley is an incredibly talented writer. I thought she did an amazing job of getting the voice of a teenager down-pat. I also loved the way she brought a fresh approach to a typical novel focusing on grief. The fake tumor aspect was interesting and did a lot for the plot. I also loved the focus on Hamlet the play. It tied in well with overall story. 

Overall, Ready to Fall is a book I can't help but suggest this Fall. Perfect for fans of Adam Silvera and John Green, Ready to Fall shows that while life doesn't always have a clean cut happily-ever-after ending, there's always happiness to be found. 

Grade: A-

Ready to Fall will be released, Tuesday, November 28th (tomorrow!!)!

Source ARC provided by author/publisher - thanks Marcella and Macmillan!

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  1. Not a fan of John Green books, okay I only read two books and I thought they were just okay. This does sounds interesting, but I will wait till the library has this one.

  2. Great review! I like when the characters go through growth and find happiness again when they've been grieving.

  3. I hadn't heard of this book before but the story sounds like something I would really like, especially since I love John Green's books. Great review!


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