Rated Reads

Falling In

by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Rated: None

If you haven’t read any books by Frances O’Roark Dowell, you really ought to. She’s a brilliant writer and storyteller: while her books are simple, her stories are actually quite sophisticated, with subtle dark undertones.

This book is pretty much all that I’ve come to expect from Dowell. It’s simple: the story of a somewhat neglected girl — Isabel Bean, age 10 — with an aura of the otherworldly about her. She doesn’t really have friends, and while she’s not a bad student or child, she doesn’t really seem to fit in at all. Her mother isn’t very motherly, and Isabel drowns that neglect in a sea of books, especially fairy tales.

It’s all fine and good, I suppose, until one day when Isabel hears a buzz coming from the floor of her school. She gets sent to the principal’s office (because hearing a buzz isn’t exactly normal school behavior), and on the way there she gets sidetracked and falls into a closet in the nurse’s office.

Into where, you may ask?

Well, into another world. One which is a bit old-fashioned, with log cabins and no cars and herb-based medicine, and which is most definitely fairy-tale-ish. With a magic, of sorts, and a witch that’s terrorizing the county of five villages. Sure, Isabel has to help defeat the witch so there can be a happily-ever-after, but the book is not really about that. It’s about making friends, and learning to be a friend. Simple, yet elegant.

It’s a good story, but one that I think worked better as an audio — there are lots of interruptions by the narrator, and ways to include the reader in the telling of the story — making the book more of a story to be heard rather than read. I’m not sure I would have liked it as much as I did had I read it. That’s not to say it’s not worth reading: it is, immensely. Dowell has a way with language and storytelling that makes even the simplest story magic.

Rated: None

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Falling In
  • by Frances O'Roark Dowell
  • Rated: None
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: