Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell (48 Hour Reading Challenge)

1 hour and ten minutes more read, 20 more minutes blogging, and finally a book from my tbr stack completed--Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell (Simon and Schuster, 2010, middle grade, 245 pages). It took me a bit longer to read this one, because of being base in an outside game of tag for part of it (which means the boys were hurling themselves on me at high speed). It was also a slower read because about half way through I found myself enjoying it quite a lot...I was by no means certain during the first half.

It's the story of a girl named Isabelle, the sort of child who is cut from a different cloth, who has no friends and looks at things differently from other children...and one day she opens a door and finds herself falling into to a whole nother world. Not so dissimilar to ours, but more olde fashioned-y, not a a magically talking animal type world, but one in which the idea of witchcraft is given serious consideration. To such an extent that all the children of this new place all live in mortal terror of the witch who eats small children, when they are in season.

In this other world, Isabelle is befriended by a slightly younger girl, Hen, who has strayed from the path to the camp where the children have taken refugee from the witch. And when they are taken in by Grete, an older woman with a knack for herbal cures, it becomes pretty clear that rumors of witchly child-killing have been greatly exaggerated. Convincing everyone else that Grete is harmless is going to be a tough job...but Isabelle has formed an attachment to Grete stronger than then her bonds with the people of her own old life, and she's willing to try.

I was doubtful at first, put off by what I found to be annoying and disruptive authorial insertions. For example, when the author asks "You want me to tell you where Isabelle is, don't you? You want me to spell it out for you, draw you a map, paint a picture" (page 32). I didn't exactly nod in agreement....

But, almost despite myself, I found found myself drawn into Isabelle's story, my reading speed slowing down as the author did, in fact, start making this place come alive for me. Isabelle and Hen's time with Grete is full of particulars of plant-lore, which I enjoyed lots, and, on a higher level, there are themes of not being quick to judge, appreciating differences, and recognizing other's gifts that are clearly stated, yet still nicely integrated into the story.

A more detailed and thoughtful review can be found here at Book Aunt, and here's another at Becky's Book Reviews.


  1. It was interesting to read your review. I felt opposite about this one--in a way. I really liked the first half, but struggled through the second half. In the end, I liked this one--but didn't quite love it. At least not like I *wanted* to love it.

  2. Glad to see a review on this one. I've seen in (and loved the cover!), and plan on buying it, but I might wait til it comes out in paperback. Thanks for the heads up on the authors inserting stuff - that's something I need to know if advanced!

  3. Hey, the time traveler is very like the Terminator movie, except that in the movie a guy comes from the future to make a baby.

    Oops, I'm commenting on the wrong post, but I'm out of blogging time so I can't fix it. Happy reading!

  4. I just went looking to see if you'd reviewed it, Becky, but couldn't find it...I hope you do review it!

    And you are very welcome, Jill!

    Hi Beth--yep, I thought of Terminator too viz Firestorm! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I reviewed it in March, here's the link:


  6. Thanks Becky! (and I didn't think the last chapter was all that satisfying either)

  7. Charlotte--Reading your review, it occurs to me that one of my favorite things is quirky fantasy, and I know you like historical fiction and historical fantasy more than I usually do, which explains why I liked Part 1 better than Part 2, and you were the other way round. Bottom line: the first half and second half of this book seem quite different in tone and also in magic quotient. (I see Becky preferred the first half, too!)

  8. This is not in my pile for this weekend, but it sounds like a book that I might have to borrow from the library, and see where I stand on the story.

    I do agree with Jill that cover is very inviting.

    Have fun with the rest of your 48 hours!!


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