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Breaking Her Fall Unknown Binding – August 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Goodwin's first novel in over two decades (after Blood of Paradise, 1979) is psychologically acute, if somewhat overplotted. Tucker Jones is a 44-year-old divorced father of two living in Washington, D.C. His life is settled in a comfortable routine until the night he receives an enigmatic phone call informing him that his 14-year-old daughter, Kat, has been involved in sexual games at a party. Blinded by worry and rage, Tucker finds the party and confronts a group of boys while looking for Kat; before the night is over, a high school junior loses his eye, and Tucker becomes embroiled in criminal proceedings that threaten to destroy his career (he owns a landscape business), family and financial stability. Goodwin tackles many subplots, including Tucker's relationship with Kat and her younger brother, Will; the ongoing litigation; and an affair that Tucker has with the mother of Kat's best friend. Tucker's reflections ramble from his son's fishing exploits to his ex-wife to the garage band he has formed with several other parents in the neighborhood. The plot becomes so busy that Goodwin loses control of the narrative at points. Still, the author's emotional compass is unfailing; he offers a memorable exploration of familial love and penance, with a likably bewildered-and articulate-protagonist: "I groaned with lust and remorse and an awareness of the disorder that seemed ready to swallow me up."
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this emotionally charged novel, Goodwin (The Blood of Paradise, 1979) homes in on parents' deepest fears and their all-too-flawed attempts to keep their children safe. Single-father Tucker Jones receives a late-night phone call informing him that his 14-year-old daughter, Kat, is in trouble. She was spotted at a party drinking vodka shooters and engaging in sex games with some older boys. Tucker, overcome with a deep, burning fury, goes to the scene of the party and within a few short minutes becomes involved in a melee in which high-school senior Jed Vandenberg is seriously injured. Jed's wealthy and influential father has Tucker arrested and served with a lawsuit that could ruin him. Suddenly, Tucker finds the list of house rules posted on their refrigerator ("Show up on time") woefully inadequate. Goodwin gets so many things right here--the halting, painful conversations between father and daughter; the fact that the grievously injured Jed was not one of the boys who took advantage of Kat; the way Tucker has shut himself down to avoid further pain after his bitter divorce; and, especially, the tenacity of a father's love for his children. Reminiscent of the work of Robert Boswell, this is a layered, compassionate, extraordinarily graceful novel. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt; 1st edition (August 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015100806X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151008063
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,222,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By L. Quido VINE VOICE on December 26, 2004
Format: Unknown Binding
"Breaking Her Fall" - the title says what we all feel about our daughters; about the peculiar loss of them as they enter the teenage years, the years in which their ability to be a person in their own right is eclipsed by the pressures of a society gone mad in depicting the sexuality of a "woman" as young as 14. Tucker's daughter Kat, at 14, is in the throes of this hormonal madness, and he doesn't even know it. Tucker's an oddity, a father who has won primary custody of daughter and son when his former wife moved up the social ladder and mostly out of their lives.

It's hard not to like Tucker, who's a self-made man, with a love for music and a need to be there for his children. It is with some trepidation that we watch him turn to rage when Kat is involved in a sex scandal at the home of a boy he knows nothing about. In slow motion, his rage leads to injury and disfigurement of the boy, and incarceration and trial. But his trials are many, both in trying to understand and protect his daughter, keep his younger son from fear, his love for his best friend's wife at bay, and himself from going mad.

The strain of parenting adolescents in this mixed up world is brought to the fore in Kat's tale, and although it is written in first person from Tucker's point of view, there is no doubt that author Stephen Goodwin was able to get inside the heads of all his main characters...from children Kat and Will to the amazing Lilly, from Trish, his ex-wife who attempts to preserve her motherhood from the tragedy, to the teenaged Jed Vandenberg, with a permanent scar from a heated misunderstanding. Goodwin makes them all come alive on the page.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 5, 2003
Format: Unknown Binding
The year is 1998 and the Clinton sex scandals are plaguing the White House; all over the country people are talking and passing judgment on the President. This unlikely setting forms the backdrop for Stephen Goodwin's ambitious, intelligent and somewhat overemotional story of teenage sex, and family relationships. Although to some extent melodramatic in places, Breaking Her Fall is still a very accomplished, and at times, quite riveting domestic drama, that really captures you from the outset, and embraces you in its entirety.
One night Tucker Jones, an American "ordinary man" - a loving and devoted father receives a hostile phone call from another parent who blames his thirteen-year-old daughter, Kat, for indulging in a drunken sexual orgy with some boys at a party. This sets of a chain reaction of violence and recrimination, which reverberates throughout Tucker's entire life affecting his children, his ex-wife, his current girlfriend, and his best friends. On the surface, the story passes for an attention-grabbing legal drama, where Tucker - accused of assaulting one of the boys - fights to save his reputation, and his innocence. But, in reality, the story is much more than this: Goodwin introduces us to a subtle domestic world seething with pent up tensions - strained relationships between ex-wives; father-daughter relationships that are not what they seem; unspoken sexual passions between best friends that are clandestinely acted upon, and teenage pregnancy which inevitably rears its controversial head.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Memoir Lover on August 3, 2003
Format: Unknown Binding
This book is awesome! From the first moment I cracked open Breaking Her Fall, I found myself a huge fan of Tucker Jones, rooting for his safe return from his perilous journey-entirely modern, entirely timeless-into all matters of the heart. Graceful, deft, humorous, more than a heartfelt account of fatherly love, Breaking is the story of a single father trying to reach his teenage daughter, his son; it's the story, also, of a man who must learn to put the past behind him and venture out into unchartered territory, towards relationships where love-meaningful love-is honored above safer, more complacent, constructs. By book's end I felt appropriately challenged-to love honestly; to love better. To find a love that matters. Thank you, Mr. Goodwin. You have delivered us a true gift: a story that is both a marvelous adventure and a call to action. Wake up! Read the book. Your heart will thank you.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
I read one or two novels a week, but only occasionally find one I carry around constantly, and steal time away from daily responsibilities to dip into. 'Breaking her Fall' absorbed me just this way: I fell into its world of a family and its joys and sorrows, its daily annoyances and pleasures with each other....and I didn't want the book to end. Goodwin can write: he catches the nuances of parental love, that tug as you watch your children grow up, wanting them to be independent while missing their dependence, and also those of passionate love and the exhilirations it brings. It's also a heartbreaking book, in many ways, for parents of young girls nearing age 14. Tucker, the single father in the book, is clearly a loving father who always does his best, even when his best is flawed. But I wondered about Goodwin's choices in portraying these characters. A 14-year-old girl goes beyond sarcasm and sulking (inevitable in adolescence, I imagine) to routine use of very foul language and total voiced disrespect of her parents; she becomes involved with drinking and sex; she frequently locks her room and refuses to attend school. While Tucker is shattered in some ways by his daughter's behavior, he never even attempts to discipline the girl or causes her to have consequences at home for her behavior: all the consequences are emotional. And that's a fascinating choice, by Goodin, to me, because it's not remotely the ones I would have made as a parent. I haven't stopped thinking about this book.
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