You may know where things are headed, and you may be right, but do you know all of it?
First Published: 2012
Date Reviewed: 24th October 2012
Jodie hates… everything, which is a rather difficult position to be in when you’re looking to replace your old, perfect, house mate. But Piper’s getting married soon so she can’t stay, and Drew and Amelia have their own homes anyway, as well as each other. Jodie’s the last one left single in their group, but she’s okay with that, really. And it’s good that Drew and Amelia finally made the leap from friends to lovers, even if Amelia has a trust issue owing to a history of bad relationships.
In this, her debut, Amos has written a book that is completely character-driven; thus to explain more than the bare basics of the story would be to ruin it; the plot itself is rather simple and in the hands of another would likely not have worked. The reason Exactly Where They’d Fall is such a success is due to Amos’s skill in creating characters that are not just memorable and sometimes funny, but fully realised, described, and unapologetically true to life.
Jodie hated the idea of a first date. She hated it to death. Especially a first date with a stranger who she already knew she wasn’t going to like.
What is particularly interesting about the character development is that the main characters appear at first to be as different as chalk and cheese, but as the book continues Amos shows how similar everyone is inside and how hard it can be to categorise others when they are, at base level, going through the same things you are yourself. In regards to personalities, Jodie, for example, is rather strong in her hating and dislike, yet as you read on you realise it’s not just part of the humour (for it becomes such) but also expresses to the reader just how difficult Jodie can be to get on with – and in a way that doesn’t make the character an anti-heroine but rather someone you can relate to. Jodie is annoying, but not nearly enough to turn you away.
There is a lot of angst in the book, though not overbearing. It’s there, it’s realistic, and it’s the everyday occurrences that so many people have to suffer through, and it therefore works very well. It may be nothing new to the reader, or it might shed some light over issues you may not have understood of others; it is dealt with in a proficient manner that goes deep enough for you to sympathise whilst not getting bogged down for too long.
Lastly with respect to the characters, the careers Amos has chosen are not your bog standard chick-lit careers; there are no florists, party-planners, or dinky shop owners here. Jodie delivers babies and Amelia is an accountant. Drew and Piper are more artistic, but they have regular jobs as well, and Amelia has her yoga classes that are presented, again, in a different way than you might find elsewhere. The careers are woven into the story smoothly and become, to some extent, part of the plot.
With the overall number of characters (indeed the secondary characters are described almost as well as the main ones) there are a few romance threads. And whilst relationships form the basis of the story, the romance never takes over, hearts and flowers remaining at a good distance. The sex scenes are tasteful, the innuendo funny, and there is a great deal of emphasis on what happens outside the bedroom.
It can be hard to remember whose parents are whose, because each set comes with their own story and baggage; but the reader may find it worth their while to keep track of everything due to how the parents provide an active context for why the main characters feel the way the do about life and their choices.
The writing is for the most part very good. There are some repetitions – descriptions, thoughts – that didn’t need to be there, and there are also a few unnecessary pieces of description, such as “pacing on his feet”. These elements are noticeable, but not enough to detract from the story or reading experience.
Try being the last one left on the planet who wasn’t engaged, when she didn’t even want to be engaged, but she also didn’t want to be not engaged in a sea of engaged people.
Exactly Where They’d Fall is an often-comedic book, somewhat in the style of Marian Keyes but baring a very individual atmosphere that illustrates just how much passion and work Amos put into it. Her flare continues throughout the novel, and her fondness for her characters shines to good effect. The Charles Dickens quote at the beginning sums up the story well and the ending is quick without leaving any threads loose. Which is more than can be said for Piper’s dresses, which are still being made.
Exactly Where They’d Fall introduces to us a writer who is full of potential, but who has not left all of that potential to their next book. And in a world where everyone looks for maturity in the second offering, that is a very good thing.
I received this book for review from the author.
October 26, 2012, 5:08 pm
Well said! EWTF is an excellent book, very well written : )
October 30, 2012, 2:41 pm
Paula: Thanks! Yes, it is wonderfully written.