What happens to the girl left behind?
A masked man with a gun enters a sandwich shop in broad daylight, and Meredith Oliver suddenly finds herself ordered to the filthy floor, where she cowers face to face with her nemesis, Lisa Bellow, the most popular girl in her eighth grade class. The minutes tick inexorably by, and Meredith lurches between comforting the sobbing Lisa and imagining her own impending death. Then the man orders Lisa Bellow to stand and come with him, leaving Meredith behind.
After Lisa’s abduction, Meredith spends most days in her room. As the community stages vigils and searches, Claire, Meredith’s mother, is torn between relief that her daughter is alive and helplessness over her inability to protect or even comfort her child. Her daughter is here, but not.
The Fall of Lisa Bellow is edgy and original, a hair-raising exploration of the ripple effects of an unthinkable crime.
When I choose books to read I rely heavily on the blurb to ensure my choices are to my liking, and something I’m comfortable reviewing, before I start. That said, I was looking forward to reading The Fall of Lisa Bellow, until I got into the book. By page 100 I discovered the blurb and the book very different and not what I’d expected.
The story drills very deep into the psyche of a family, focusing on the daughter, Meredith, and her mother, Claire. I found the story to be telling and the writing style overly repetitive in places. I was often confused about the relevance of some sections and could not see how they advanced the story.
Then I had a light bulb moment. I realised this story was not really about an abduction and so I should stop relying on the blurb and enjoy the read. The plot is more about a young, troubled girl, Meredith, and her mother’s inability to deal with life and the situations she’s found herself in.
I did not enjoy this story because it is not the style of book I like to read and it took much persistence to finish. I expected a twist or some great revelation at the end, but this novel is more literary in its structure and telling. It should be said, however, that the author has narrated the lives of this family in great depth and aside from my confusion and the connection to the blurb, the novel is clearly complex and the messages contained profound.
As I was interested to know more about this author and her publishing history, I did Google Susan Perabo and discovered she is highly regarded and an award-winning short story writer.
This review has also been placed on Goodreads