When I started reading this book I had zero idea that the author, Dennis Lehane, was the same author that wrote Mystic River and Shutter Island. Mystic River is one of my favorite movies due to it’s no punches pulled plot and how well you can see the characters thoughts and motivations flitting behind their eyes. I have no doubt the book is even better than the movie and you can be sure I’m adding that one to my must read list.
Since We Fell came up on my recommended list on Audible and after reading the synopsis I knew this was next up on my reading list. I was sucked into the story immediately because of Lehane’s strong writing skills; The main character Sarah was well-developed, all the supporting characters seemed fleshed out and I’ve never read a book from an author with such a strong voice. The author spends a long time establishing Sarah’s back story though. So much so that it seems like it takes up almost half the book and then the latter half of the book seems hurried to cram everything in until it stops at a lackluster conclusion.
I actually had to sit on my review of Since We Fell because I honestly couldn’t tell if I liked it or not. It engaged me and each sentence was beautifully written and masterfully crafted, but as days went on I realized that Lehane’s expert writing style was simply dressing up a book that was mediocre at best. From the very beginning a lot of time is invested going into Sarah’s past of being raised as an only child by her mother and Sarah’s subsequent search for her father you assume that the story will develop organically from here since that brings you to almost page 200 of the novel. However, in the end, the main plot of the story has absolutely nothing to do with her background or her family. Sure, it helps you understand why she makes the decisions she does, but that could have been illustrated in a chapter at most. The whole deep delve into her family history just seemed superfluous by the end.
I can also see how some women might take issue with how Sarah is portrayed and that is where I choose to disagree. Sarah makes a lot of ill-advised choices and she makes the same mistakes over and over again, but that’s human! A book, movie, drawing or any other artistic representation of women doesn’t have to show women at their best and it shouldn’t! Women are human like anyone else. We are full of flaws. Sometimes we choose the wrong men and sometimes commit acts we shouldn’t to protect ourselves, but this isn’t a female thing. This is a human thing! I enjoy Sarah because she knows she’s choosing the wrong man and doesn’t make excuses for his actions. She acknowledges her husband’s actions, knows they’re bad and still chooses to be with him. Sarah was portrayed as a kick-ass woman who could survive in Haiti reporting on the aftermath following the 2010 earthquake and her issues rebuilding herself after all she witnessed there. She is neither perfect nor even described as the prettiest woman in the novel which is a breath of fresh air. Lately every novel I’ve read seems to describe the main woman as being so breathtakingly beautiful that every man turns their head to look at her when she enters a room and actually run into poles. How often does that actually occur in the real world?
Had the novel taken the riveting action and mystery that took place in the last half and made that the concentration of the book I could see this easily being just as colossal a hit as its predecessors. Sadly, it was more of a fizzle than a bang and the ending was no different. By the time I finished the last page I was left thinking “this is it?”. The book just honestly felt like it was all over the place as if Lehane couldn’t decide what genre he wanted it to be so he chose everything. The only thing missing was some aliens accidentally crash landing into Boston.
While Lehane is an expert at setting a scene and making you feel the panic rise up from your belly when Sarah is in a tough spot he fails to make the roller coaster ride worth it. In the end, the reader is left with all the exhilaration of a merry-go-round. Sadly, I would have to suggest you honestly not waste your time or your money on this one, my friends!