This review was written for a blog tour. I received the book for free in exchange for an honest review. Stick around until the end and enter the giveaway!
*WHAT IF YOU HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE CRUSH?*
Impossible because she’s Ellen Foster. The beautiful, smart, and possibly fragile photography-girl. You’re Cam Campbell. The guy who plays football 24/7 with no life. But what if during junior year, you decide to finally try for her phone number—until this glitter-crazed new girl ruins your plan. Worse, the girl is Irish, awkward, and insists you and Ellen should become best friends—with her! Only, you don’t want to be friends with a human tornado, and you think Ellen might need to stay a crush. This is because after one interaction you’ve discovered Ellen Foster really is fragile. Your problems and secrets are too big for anyone to understand.
*WHAT IF YOU COULDN’T RESIST?*
But what if the three of you wind up assigned to a group photography project, where rumors are already circling about the new girl being ridiculous? You know she’s nice but very alone, so you convince your crush to help protect the new girl. Suddenly, working on the project makes hanging out, texting, talking—and even high school—seem fun and completely normal when it’s anything but normal.
*WHAT IF YOU KISS?*
What if you kiss Ellen Foster and it’s perfect enough to make you believe in things you shouldn’t. You tell her secrets and share your dreams. You make the kinds of promises and create plans to be together that might be impossible to keep when you’re only sixteen and your parents control your entire future, but… WHAT IF YOU HURT HER?
I’m trying to figure out where to start with this review. This book is absolutely sweet, hilarious, bittersweet, and above all: refreshing. First off: It’s set in Canada and they talk about American football. The female lead has Cerebral Palsy and the female lead’s best friend is half First Nations. The characters come from a variety of circumstances, class, and the huge theme of the book seems to be: don’t judge a book by its cover. Because seriously, just because the popular kid is popular, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have his own set of problems.
The book flips between Ellen Foster’s POV and Cam Campbell’s POV. I absolutely love the different POV. Not only does it remind me of Eleanor and Park (this won’t be the first time I mention this comparison) but it’s kind of adorable to see how they each see how a certain event went down. It sets up for some really funny comedic moments and also some really sweet moments.
The book handles teens in such a realistic and beautiful way. Everyone is trying define themselves and become their own person, but the adults in their lives keep trying to push them to be someone or something they don’t want to be or hold them back unknowingly. There’s some angst, yes, but not an overwhelming amount of angst. Mostly, there’s a lot of hope. And believing. And dreaming.
Ellen Foster has Cerebral Palsy, a disease I hadn’t really heard of until this book brought it to my attention, and she is, by far, one of the strongest heroines I’ve ever come across. She can’t kick anyone’s butt because her disease has rendered her left side almost useless and her bone density is a lot less than average and she struggles to gain weight. And despite all of that, she works every day to get stronger, to prove to everyone she’s not a charity case, she can be independent, and she doesn’t need assistance. Despite her stubborn streak, I thought she was at her strongest when she put down her walls and allowed herself to ask for help because I think it takes a lot of strength and courage to do so.
Cam Campbell is the star quarterback. His father is an ex-NFL quarterback who was a huge star and he forces his son to lead the same path because of Cam’s immense talent. Despite Cam’s good looks and popularity, he has no true friends because he’s not allowed to do anything. His entire life has to be football 24/7 because his dad dictates his life. Cam gets verbally abused almost every single day by his father on the field and off the field and all Cam wants to do is pursue a photography career and break away from his family. He doesn’t think anything is possible until fate brings him and Ellen closer together.
How I Fall has that one element in it that I really wished Eleanor and Park had: the non-perfect main male lead character. Park’s family and social life seemed to be absolutely perfect in every single way, despite being the only Asian in school. All the struggles seemed to be happening from Eleanor’s side, but How I Fall has both characters struggling to break out of the stereotype they’ve been cast in. Together, they’re wonderful and you can see how the compliment each other and it even appears to be more than just a first-love type of thing. Together, you can’t help but root for them because they seem like the high school sweethearts who get married and stay together forever. By the time the book ended, I knew I would have to get How I Fly to find out what happens to the “star-crossed lovers.”
There’s also so many writing gems in this book. I don’t think I’ve ever read a first kiss quite like the way Anne described it. It was so much more innocent and sweet and warm and scary all at once.
Anyone who’s loves sweet contemporary romances. I think if you’re a fan of Eleanor and Park and The Fault in Our Stars, you’re just going to fall in love with Ellen and Cam’s story and Anne’s writing.
I feel like I should also mention that there’s no love triangle. And Ellen and her guy best friend are purely platonic. And there’s an Irish exchange student who I imagine looks like Eva Lynch. And they’re both wonderful and funny and super supportive and there’s no secret loathing between any of them. I’ll say it again: totally refreshing. Just seriously, go read the book. And then read the author’s note about this amazing 14-year-old girl that helped inspire the book because her story is just as equally amazing.
Anne Eliot is the author of the, How I Fall/How I Fly two book series, and bestselling, young adult teen issue romances, Almost and Unmaking Hunter Kennedy. She loves writing about teens who live outside the ordinary and she’s devoted to stories about teens who live outside the ordinary but who also get to find sweet first kisses and first loves.
Anne resides in Colorado with a very patient husband, two teens of her own whom she adores (an some teens near and far thanks to hosting many exchange students) who are all growing up too fast.
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