The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo
In recent years, many resources have been allocated to the research of the way in which individuals respond to traumatic events. Not only are traumatic events problematic for those who are directly involved, but they are also responsible for affecting those who experience them peripherally; the innocent bystanders, so to speak. While there is much work to be done, one thing is certain: each individual experiences and processes these events in a very unique way; uncovering the various coping mechanisms, symptoms, etc., may prove as difficult as solving a complex puzzle.
Meredith Oliver walks into a local restaurant, Deli Barn, to pick up a sandwich; she has inadvertently walked into a traumatic situation. Her middle school classmate, Lisa Bellow, will be kidnapped while she watches and she is paralyzed from doing anything to either prevent or gather any information about the incident.
While this might be enough material upon which to craft an intriguing story, for author Susan Perabo, and readers of this stunning novel, this is only a small portion of what develops into the deeply moving, funny, relatable journey of not only Meredith and Lisa, but also their families, fellow students and community. The novel includes significant themes such as the power of sibling relationships, mortality, the challenges of motherhood, coming-of-age, forgiveness and, obviously, coping with trauma.
Having thoroughly enjoyed Perabo’s work as an author of short stories (her collection Why They Run the Way They Do was one of my favorite reads in 2016), I felt a little anxious about this first published novel; my fears have been more than sufficiently assuaged. Her talent never ceases to amaze me and I will begin, again, to anxiously await the next work she shares.
With fascinating character development, enough wonder to keep the pages turning at a quick pace, and intelligent, carefully-crafted writing, The Fall of Lisa Bellow will surely land on my list of favorites this year and is already on my list of Best Books to Read on Spring Break 2017.