Eddie Reeves’s once-famous photographer father committed suicide, and now Eddie is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life while also trying to understand why he left her and her grief-stricken, nearly-catatonic mother. Things are complicated by the fact that her mother’s best friend Beth has moved in and is trying to push them back into normal, her best friend Milo is hanging out with the only girl he ever dated again, and Eddie is finding herself drawn to the mysterious photography student Culler Evans. As she searches for meaning in her father’s death, Eddie finds more of herself.
The third novel from Summers won’t disappoint fans of her previous work. On the surface, it is similar to Some Girls Are and Cracked Up to Be: it’s a book about a girl with a problem. But in this exploratory novel, Summers delves into the darkest parts of grief and the slow process of healing. She manages to make Eddie’s grief so palpable, her home life so oppressive, that the reader can’t help but feel like they’re drowning along with her.
Eddie is a protagonist that is fully developed. Her grief is something that she tries to conceal but at the same time wants people to notice it. Her contradictions are raw and real and her pain is so intense that it’s sometimes hard to be in her head with her. She seeks answers and support but doesn’t know how to go about asking for either. While her attraction to the creepy Culler Evans is certainly understandable, it is her friendship with Milo that is most likely to resonate with readers. Where she is listless and adrift, Milo is constant and steady. He is her guidepost even when she doesn’t want him to be, and his resolve to stick by her is both admirable and a little heart-breaking.
Summers’s novel plays with the idea of a mystery without ever really digging into one. Eddie’s search for answers is understandable, as is her unending desire to find a larger meaning in the wake of her father’s death. What Summers does so well here is the creation of a character who is so full of grief that she’s almost unable to function. There’s something so raw about this story that it hurts to read it at times. The portrayal of grief and loss is incredibly, uncomfortably honest.
Readers can expect a story with relentless pacing, dark topics and dark humor, and no perfect happy ending. The novel ends with a glimmer of hope, but it’s clear that Eddie’s still got a lot of work to do.
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers. St. Martin’s Griffin, December 2010. Library copy.