Book Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

The Fall of Lisa Bellow
Susan Perabo

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In a psychological drama that begins with a robbery and an abduction, eighth-grader Meredith Oliver is the girl who was left behind on the floor of the convenience store, when an armed man in an oversized hoodie and ski mask takes Meredith’s nemesis, the popular and pretty Lisa Bellow. This story is about how Meredith, her family and Lisa’s mother, Colleen cope with the tragedy during an investigation that leads nowhere. Meredith may have been the lucky one, but she descends into unknown territory as she imagines where Lisa may be.

Dynamics change at school when Lisa’s friends invite her to sit with them at lunch. At home, Meredith’s father, Mark tries to cheer her up and her mother, Claire irritates her. Her older brother, Evan, despite a recent debilitating eye injury that has wrecked his promising baseball career, may be the only one who can reach her.

Perabo tells the story through both Meredith’s and Claire’s perspectives and shows the disconnect between them. One question that haunts Meredith is why she remained frozen on the floor of the store and didn’t look up to see what kind of car the man drove. And while Meredith enters a post-traumatic state, Claire turns the situation into something about herself. Readers also get a look at Claire’s faulty marriage and her disturbing and ego-centric thoughts.

This was an interesting book, although not what I expected. Despite opening scenes that suggest suspense or mystery, it’s a slow-moving drama about adolescence, families and marriage. Most of the characters are unknowable, as readers only get a look at their actions, like Colleen’s strange insistence on having Meredith and Lisa’s other friends hang out in Lisa’s room. Apart from a couple scenes in which Mark calls Claire out (possible game changers in their marriage), the author portrays Meredith’s dad as the cheerful and likable parent. Evan may be the only side character we get an inner glimpse of, as he struggles to overcome his physical injury and his efforts offer a nice parallel to Meredith’s trauma.

A few things bothered me a little about this story. The first was that I didn’t like Claire at all and that can be a problem in a book in which not much happens, which is the second thing that bothered me. While you can see how Meredith and her family progress and imagine how their next year may be, the improvement is slow. That’s probably intentional, because who can bounce back from a situation like that? But the book ends without much of a conclusion and I found that a little unsatisfying. And although the cover is very pretty, it gives the misleading impression of two friends falling into water.

That said, the writing is very good and I did fly through the pages, always a positive part of a book.

So if you like psychological studies and don’t mind a couple unlikable or frustrating characters, you would probably like The Fall of Lisa Bellow. I picked this book at random in the first of my Read, React, Decide YouTube videos in which I read a short passage from a book and decide if I want to read it.

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9 thoughts on “Book Review: The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo

    1. Hi Marian – if I read them, I’m going to review them! I generally like literary fiction, but it was so serious. Kind of reminded me of books by Joyce Carol Oates. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope you are doing well. As usual, I am catching up here!

    1. Hi Noelle – it was very literary and serious. I had a hard time with the mother, but I did enjoy the book. Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. Hi Robbie – Not telling – I don’t want to give anything away! This book is definitely not a mystery, however, but as you say, more of a deep psychological study. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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