Title: Falling Down
Author: Eli Easton
Length: 251 Pages
At a Glance: Overall the story fell flat for me. Judging by other readers’ reactions, I’m in the minority with my opinion on this one—as always, your mileage may vary. But, Falling Down unfortunately wasn’t one of my favorite Eli Easton books.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Josh finds himself homeless at eighteen, but he has a plan. He’ll head north on the bus to New England and spend October there for his mother’s sake. She always talked about going to see the fall leaves someday. And when the leaves are done and the harsh winter comes, Josh plans to find a place to curl up and let go. It will be a relief to finally stop fighting.
Mark spent his life trying to live up to the tough swagger of his older brothers until he pushed himself so far against his nature that he cracked. Now a former Marine, he rents a little cabin in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where he can lick his wounds and figure out what to do with the rest of his life. One thing was clear: Mark was nobody’s hero.
Fate intervenes when Josh sets up camp under a covered bridge near Mark’s cabin. Mark recognizes the dead look in the young stranger’s eyes, and he feels compelled to do something about it. When Mark offers Josh a job, he never expects that he’ll be the one to fall.
The snow is coming soon. Can Mark convince Josh that the two of them can build a life together before the flurries begin?
Trigger Warning: Suicidal thoughts
Review: I find myself in the unfamiliar position of having to talk about an Eli Easton book that I didn’t love. *gasp* I know. So weird, right?? I have read and loved many of her books…and I liked this one…it just didn’t totally work for me. I went into it expecting it to be heavy—and it was—so, it’s not that I wasn’t in the mood for it. I always love Easton’s settings; she has such a gift for describing the beautiful, often snowy rural places in many of her stories. So, that was great, too. And, I did like the main characters. Mark was so lovely, and I wanted to constantly hug Josh. I think the main issue, though, was that I didn’t entirely buy them as a couple.
Mark is an ex-Marine and Afghanistan vet who has settled temporarily in the small New Hampshire town of Gainsville, a couple of hours away from his childhood hometown of Concord. He moved back home after his last tour with the Marines was up but found all the family closeness to be too stifling, so he picked up and moved a little farther away and started his own handyman company. Mark also isn’t out to his four older brothers or his parents, so it’s nearly impossible to completely be himself around them.
When we meet Josh he is homeless, having run away from home after a fight with his stepdad, and it’s immediately obvious that he is not at a good place in his life. We learn that he very recently lost his mother and that they were beyond close; basically, it was always them against the world. One of her dreams was to see the fall leaves in New England, so Josh makes his way north to live out that wish for her. It also quickly becomes clear that Josh is suicidal and that he has a plan to end his life soon, at barely eighteen years old. He finds a postcard in a little shop he stops at of a beautifully scenic place called Bigler’s Pond and decides to go check it out. It has a covered bridge that Josh hopes will be a perfect place to take shelter.
As chance would have it, Bigler’s Pond is a stone’s throw away from Mark’s cozy little cabin, and he discovers Josh there under the bridge. Mark desperately needs help on his current painting job, and Josh obviously needs a place to stay, so they work out an arrangement that has Josh working for Mark in exchange for food and use of his sun porch. Over the course of a few weeks, they start opening up to each other, and forming a friendship. I loved how easygoing and sweet Mark was, and how, through his caring, Josh started to realize how much he had to live for. The voice in Josh’s head that kept reminding him of his plan gradually got quieter and quieter.
My heart broke for Josh, and I adored Mark, but the romance definitely felt forced to me. I liked their friendship much more than I believed their love connection. I honestly didn’t feel their romantic chemistry at all. I needed more relationship development. I think part of the issue also was Josh’s immaturity. His tendency to get defensive and run away when faced with even a tiny bit of conflict really showed me that he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship.
I did love Mrs. Fisher, the client whose house they were painting, and thought it was sweet how attached Josh got to her. I also loved how Mark’s family rallied around him at the end. And, the final part of the story was emotional (if a bit predictable), and I did find myself getting choked up. But, overall the story fell flat for me. Judging by other readers’ reactions, I’m in the minority with my opinion on this one—as always, your mileage may vary. But, Falling Down unfortunately wasn’t one of my favorite Eli Easton books.
You can buy Falling Down here:
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