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All Fall Down

Review

All Fall Down

“How does a suburban lady who’s pushing middle age end up in rehab? How did this happen to me?”

Harried working mother Allison Weiss wonders at what point did her life bottom out. By all accounts, she has a terrific life --- on paper: a rewarding job as a blogger for an up-and-coming women’s website, a handsome husband, and an adorable daughter. But just beneath the surface, fissures in the normally tough veneer are starting to show. Modern-day life can be stressful.  Her job, once thought to be a fun side-project, has bloomed into a new media sensation, replete with a demanding boss who’s always anxious for the next new thing. Her husband Dave’s job at a local newspaper has stalled. Their daughter, Eloise, while adorable, can be a handful. To add insult to injury, her father has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, rendering her emotionally distant mother unable to handle their day-to-day lives. All of this falls on Allison’s shoulders; no wonder she feels like she’s drowning.

"Although more serious than many of her previous novels, ALL FALL DOWN tackles a very timely issue, which should make it a natural choice for book clubs."

After throwing her back out at the gym, Allison’s doctor had given her a prescription for Percocet. Even though her back wasn’t the problem now, Allison soon discovered that the pills were terrific at “taking the edge off” her stressful life and helping her cope: “Not one thing, but dozens of them, piling up against one another until the pills became less a luxury than a necessity for getting myself through the day and falling asleep at night.”

Relying on the pills becomes the new normal for Allison, and she thinks she has it all under control. That is, until a horrible incident at her daughter’s school makes her and those around her wake up to the fact that, despite her many protestations, she is not “fine” --- far from it. Her “problem” has now become her “addiction,” something that is very hard for her to wrap her college-educated brain around: “I’ve never been in trouble my whole life….I’ve been successful. I’m good at my job. I have a beautiful little girl. I had everything I wanted. And now…Now I’m a drug addict.”

Once the truth has been revealed, Allison realizes that her only recourse to keep her marriage and child is to check herself into rehab. Once there, she slowly starts to realize that she cannot control everything, no matter how hard she tries. A counselor tells her, “So many of us women feel like we’re the ones holding up the world. Like it’s all going to fall down without us.” And that’s certainly true of Allison. How can her family maintain their packed schedule without her there to steer the ship? However, a surprising revelation from a family member helps Allison not to repeat a troubled family history, as they advise her “Don’t be like me…. Don’t waste your life hiding.”

Bestselling author Jennifer Weiner knows how to write for and about modern-day women. As shocking as Allison’s pill habit becomes, the reader sympathizes with her plight, and feels for her rather than judges her. That’s just one of the many talents Weiner possesses as a writer --- that accessibility, that relatability to her characters that keeps her fans turning pages and rooting for Allison’s recovery. Although more serious than many of her previous novels, ALL FALL DOWN tackles a very timely issue, which should make it a natural choice for book clubs. If any complaints are to be made, it’s that the reader is left wanting more --- more of Allison’s time in rehab, more of her life afterwards --- but maybe Weiner is saving that for a sequel. We can only hope.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on June 20, 2014

All Fall Down
by Jennifer Weiner

  • Publication Date: June 17, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • ISBN-10: 145161778X
  • ISBN-13: 9781451617788