Review: Where We Fell by Amber L. Johnson
Where We Fell is Amber L. Johnson’s debut novella. It’s a story about love showing up at the worst time in a guy’s life—when he’s nineteen and just found out he has cancer.
From Chapter one:
My mother’s gaze keeps scanning the floor and then the door, waiting for some sort of answer. I hope there’s none to give, but the rock-hard dread filling the pit of my stomach tells me there has to be something. Either way, the past few weeks have been torture and whatever the doctor says, at least I’ll finally know.
If I stare hard enough, I can almost make out where the air conditioning hits my legs, making the hair dance a little against my chilled skin. I tap my foot on the cold metal below me, the paper on the exam table crinkling beneath me as I close my eyes and lean back to stare at the ceiling. Without even thinking about it, my left hand slips over my sternum and into the opening in the medical gown where I have my right arm raised. My forefinger caresses the large lump in my armpit and I close my eyes, thinking back to where it all started.
The track at school. Halfway through my fourth turn. The pain dropped me to my knees and I curled up, gasping for breath, sweat clouding my vision while people yelled my name frantically. I couldn’t see anything except the gray sky above and the curtain of hair in my eyes. Everything blurry. Everything just out of reach from the pain.
I think everyone has experienced such a moment, be it for themselves or in support of a family member, and Amber Johnson describes it well.
Oliver meets Hannah at a low point—when the devastation is still setting in, and he’s not sure if he’s going to survive. Hannah is just what he needs—a combination of supportive and caring while not letting him sink into self-pity. I won’t go too deeply into the storyline and ruin it for you.
The writing is wonderfully descriptive without being purple. There are no wasted words (especially important in a novella); every word, every scene, belonged in the story. The transition between scenes was extremely smooth and never felt jarring. It’s a fine line keeping the content to necessary scenes without it feeling incomplete. I’ve read books that attempt to cut out the unnecessary scenes but end up reading choppy, but Where We Fell was smooth sailing.
Despite its short length, it read like a full novel to me. It was well-edited; I only saw a handful of typos in my ARC. The characters were well-developed. The only one I didn’t feel a connection with was Terrence, Oliver’s best friend, though I can’t put my finger on why. The drama moment was somewhat predictable, but that didn’t detract from the story.
The love scene was tastefully done. While it’s technically a fade-to-black, it really isn’t. You’ll just have to go read to find out what I mean.
Where We Fell will make you laugh, cry, and be more thankful for what you have. If Amber Johnson’s other offerings are as satisfying as this one, she’s one to keep an eye on.