Compelling and off-kilter, this novel was a very quick read. But I wanted more as a mystery reader?
Mystery elements: ★★
This is another one of those books where I have to preface my review and say "oh hey, it was me again—I thought this book would be something else. Whoops!" That doesn't happen too often these days as I'm getting better and better at figuring out my own reading preferences... but clearly there are still some one-offs that sneak past my radar.
I was looking for a more standard whodunit, complete with a detective, a perpetrator, and a solution. The Falling Woman is more lyrical than that, and less tied to those rules and regulations. This is a novel about humanity, struggle, and what we do when faced with impossibilities.
It's a beautiful novel in it's own way.
At first it's just a rumor. A woman survived a mid-air plane explosion? Impossible. Literally, unbelievable. But the rumor grows, and soon the investigators in charge of explaining the plane crash take a leap into the impossible - maybe the "falling woman" is real. And if so, how exactly did she survive?
Plane crash investigator Charlie Ranford is on the case. Well, he's mostly on the case. Okay, partially on the case. He doesn't exactly want to be on the case, but that's the way it is, alright? (Charlie is a very contradictory, anxiety-ridden personality. It's a little exhausting.)
A reluctant advocate for the "Falling Woman," as she is dubbed by the press, Charlie starts to unpeel the layers from fact and fiction to see if maybe, just maybe, she's a legitimate story. But if she's real... why can't they find her? Why did she go off the grid? Does she not want to reunite with her family? Why?
The Falling Woman unpeels like an complicated wrapping, and as we uncover the motivations and situations that led to Charlie speaking in front of a tribunal about his actions following the crash, we as the reader come to realize that this isn't a mystery about who or what ended the lives of those on the plane. It's a story about humans, and the struggles and realities that we all face when confronted with impossible choices.
Give this one a try if you like novels centered on the complexities of our decisions, humans stuck in hard places, and the ties that connect us all in the end. This isn't a novel with a "who crashed the plane and why ending" and I feel like that's not a bad spoiler to share - because if that's a spoiler to you, then this isn't the right novel to read.
Come for the characters and stay for the characters—it's a fascinating journey.
Thank you to Algonquin for my copy in exchange for an honest review.
Amy Imogene Reads
Just someone looking for her own door into Wonderland.