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Lessons in Falling Paperback – February 7, 2017
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About the Author
Though Diana Gallagher be but little, she is fierce. She’s also a gymnastics coach and judge, former collegiate gymnast, and writing professor. She holds an MFA from Stony Brook University and her work has appeared in The Southampton Review, International Gymnast, and on a candy cigarette box for SmokeLong Quarterly. To learn more, visit her website at dianagallagher.blogspot.com.
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Top customer reviews
I’ll start with a surprise—that I loved—which is not reflected in any marketing for the book I’ve seen. Savannah’s love interest, Marcos, is the child of undocumented immigrants. His parents had to leave the US amidst immigration strikes and sent Marcos and his brother to be near family in Long Island. The teens’ small town is boiling pot of escalating racial tensions. Savannah, Marcos, and their friends must confront the important question of learning how to respond to prejudice—both institutional and violent. Do they put their heads down and focus on what will get them into college? Do they speak up? Or do they respond with fists flying? I loved those questions in the book and how they tied into Savannah’s relationships with the other characters and her character arc.
As much as I loved this book now, I wish I could have read it as a teen. Savannah’s relationship with Cass is so realistic and I related to the experience of balancing my own issues with my friends’, and trying to navigate the boundaries and commitments of a healthy, meaningful friendship. Cass and Savannah’s relationship would have been oddly comforting for me to read while I was working through similar relationships myself. The issue of Cass’ depression and attempted suicide is handled delicately.
I also loved Savannah’s struggle to return to gymnastics despite multiple painful injuries. I grew up horseback riding and running competitively, and while I never had injuries as severe as Savannah’s (knock on wood—I still do both!), I definitely experienced moments of doubt, fear, exhaustion, and just plain yearning for free time. Savannah’s struggle with those emotions and hard work is inspiring!
I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to explore the dynamics of friendship, racial tensions, and the mental and emotional elements of dangerous sports. An especially perfect read for teen athletes!
"Just the same phrase again and again: 'Failed to use proper judgment.'"
The Savannah at the beginning of this book is not the same Savannah at the end of the book. Savannah's world had been tilted off its axis at the onset of this story, and as she righted it, she grew and changed.
I liked so many things about this book. I remember those friends, who I thought would be around forever, and as we grew up, we grew apart. Therefore, I could totally relate to Savannah's situation regarding her relationship with Cassie. Cassie was always the same Cassie, but as Savannah expanded her social circle, her eyes opened a little bit wider and she began to see the things that were always right in front of her. I found this part of the story sort of sad but real. Friendships change and sometimes crumble, and I thought Gallagher did a great job illustrating this reality.
"Gymnastics is the boyfriend you need to get over"
My first thoughts about Cassie were that she was a controlling codependent. However, as the story played out, I became a little more sympathetic towards her. I still didn't forgive all her transgressions, however I was able to better understand why. Still, there were many times where Cassie's behavior shocked me.
"I had to figure out what was right for me, not what Cassie thought was best. All these years, I chose her. But she didn't choose me"
I just could not believe how a friend could be so discouraging. She was there for 10 years while Savannah worked towards her goal, and then she actively discouraged Sav's return to the sport. It was very difficult for me to reconcile this behavior with that of a best friend.
"It's like you wilt when she's in the room."
I was so happy Savannah had a few people on her side. Marcos and Emery were great proponents. They cheered for Savannah and encouraged her to be her best and do her best. I found the relationship between Marcos and Savannah to be so healthy. They were both each other's biggest supporters, and I was elated that Gallagher made this a central component of their relationship and set this side by side with Savannah and Cassie.
"That's what you're supposed to do as a friend. You support the dreams, the good ones, and you shake your friends out of the bad ones"
The juxtaposition Gallagher offered of Cassie and Savannah's friendship and Marcos and Andreas was quite telling as well. Marcos would risk everything to have Andreas' back and protect him from harm. And then there was Cassie, who fled at the first sign of danger and threw fits when Savannah did not make the decisions Cassie wanted her to make.
This book is billed as a gymnastics book, and gym references abound. The connection and relationship Savannah had with the sport was very authentic. You can definitely tell that Gallagher came from a gymnastics background, and it added an extra dimension to Savannah.
Overall: A poignant coming of age story featuring a physical and mental comeback.
Most recent customer reviews
After one injury too many, Savannah quit gymnastics, much...Read more
I liked this book. This book is about a girl named Savannah and her friend Cassie.Read more
I thought this book captured senior year in high school well.Read more