I read and enjoyed Two Wolves by Tristan Bancks, written for tweens to early teens. The Fall is aimed at a similar age-group, centred on almost thirteen-year-old Sam, who is staying with his estranged father after an operation on his leg.
In unfamiliar surroundings he witnesses a man fall to the ground from the building above him. When he goes to tell his father, Harry, he is not there. Hobbling around on crutches he tries to find out what has happened to the man who fell, and to his father. Harry is a journalist and has been secretive about what he is working on, and told Sam to stay in the apartment.
Sam’s relationship with his mother, and his behaviour at this stage of his life, is portrayed in a way that young adults could relate to, but also get some perspective. It also depicts the loss he feels not having his father in his life as he seeks his identity and heritage, and the connection he would like to have with him. He tries to investigate the fall and bring the evidence to his father in an attempt to please him
Sam has scoliosis, giving him one leg shorter than the other, as his father Harry does too, and this is the reason behind some of his difficulties in life. He sees a therapist, normalising this, and showing strategies for dealing with anger. His mum talks about ‘‘learning to suffer well’. She said that being happy wasn’t about slaying all the dragons and overcoming all the bad things. She said the dragons would always be there. Being happy was about learning not to panic or freak out every time you saw one’.
As the story goes on Sam realises he is involved in something even bigger than he imagined and it all gets very tricky, and he doesn’t know who he can trust, and who he can turn to. It makes him realise he doesn’t want to be ‘the ‘me’ that I had been before I came to Harry’s. I wanted to be someone new, someone better and more mature, who could make good decisions’.
This is a fast-paced book, but it is not just action. It has layers that young boys and girls will be able to see themselves in.