- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 - 9
- Lexile Measure: HL610L (What's this?)
- Series: Embassy Row (Book 1)
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Scholastic Press; Signed edition (January 20, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0545654742
- ISBN-13: 978-0545654746
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 220 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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All Fall Down (Embassy Row, Book 1) Hardcover – January 20, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—As she has been told repeatedly, Grace Blakely's mother was killed in an unfortunate fire that destroyed the small antiques shop she owned. But Grace was there, and she remembers the gun, the bullet wound in her mother's chest, a man with a facial scar, and an explosion just before the shop was engulfed in flames. After three years in treatment for post-traumatic stress, the 16-year-old has returned to where she spent her childhood. With her father constantly away on military missions, she's once again living in the U.S. embassy in Adria, Italy, where her grandfather serves as ambassador. She doesn't want to be there, tortured by constant reminders of her mother and surrounded by people who believe that the death was an accident. She knows everyone thinks she's crazy, but the teen is determined to prove that her mother was murdered. As the ambassador's granddaughter, she is expected to observe embassy protocol, but when she spots a man with the same facial scar she remembers from the antiques shop, her reaction threatens U.S. diplomatic relations with every country on Embassy Row, not to mention Adria itself. With the assistance of some unexpected allies, Grace plots a way to bring the man she believes to be her mother's killer to justice. Grace's justifiable anger and spunk are sure to resonate with teens. With its intrigue and clever plot twists, this series opener will leave readers hungering for more.—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
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But that's disturbing, I think, for an important reason. What follows is written for adults who might be considering whether to give this book as a gift to a kid in your life: As the story focuses more and more on the search for a murderer by a girl who has been under psychiatric care for some three years, is still supposed to be taking psychiatric meds, and is therefore known to be emotionally fragile, if not unstable, I question the wisdom of telling young readers a story that is based on the premise that Grace's adult family members are so stupid, negligent, and have made such horrendous, clueless, or self-centered decisions that they have not only participated in destroying her mental health, but have now tossed her into a demanding, complex situation where she has neither continuity of support nor intelligent, caring supervision. These supposedly-adult decision-makers know full well that Grace is seriously traumatized. They know she has been obsessed by the memory of a man who looks exactly like a man she will surely encounter in Adria. So telling young readers, in effect, that their adult family members might not only drive them into psychiatric illness, but might also abandon them - at age 16 - into the "non-care" of two, thoroughly-incompetent strangers (Grace's grandfather and his secretary are truly strangers to this girl, and to even barely-adequate parenting) ... well, this is not a great set of messages, especially not for any young reader: This book normalizes family neglect, abuse, and abandonment. For this reason alone, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone.
Will I buy the books in this series for my granddaughters? No. Would I have bought the entire series for them if the storyline hadn't gone in such a disturbing, irresponsible direction? Almost certainly, especially if the quality of the writing had stayed as high as it was at the beginning. Too bad.
I must say though that Grace isn't my favorite heroine of Ally's. Do I like her? Yes. However, it's often quite hard to connect with narrators who aren't reliable, and I feel like she did a lot of things that made me facepalm or headdesk some. Also, the ending twist? I didn't see it coming 100% and I had an alternative twist in mind, but as the ending came nearer, I started to suspect that kind of thing, so I wasn't thoroughly surprised. There was something I was surprised about, but I seem to have forgotten :O
What I did like was the setting and the supporting cast which is way more diverse than Ally's books usually are. My favorite was the best friend :') but I was annoyed with the "mean girl" trope regarding his sister, so I hope that is improved upon and she will grow eventually and become a valuable part of the team. Also, I'm beginning to see some repetitive storylines in Ally's books (for instance, one dead parent; similar team members as far as skills go). I hope that Grace's brother has more to do with the storyline other than being mentioned, because if not, it's the single child thing too pretty much and I'd very much love to see a sibling relationship as well in her books in addition to great friendships and otps.
As a whole I liked it, but I didn't really care about anything in particular, so that's mostly the reason why it's 3 stars.