READERS TELL ALL.
FREEFALL by Jessica Barry
There are few occasions when a debut rivals a literary favorite of mine. Any literary favorite of mine. I recall Amy Gentry's GOOD AS GONE being astonishing, as well as Lori Roy's BENT ROAD, both of these books being mesmerizing and caught up in their own space, place, time. The same can be said true for FREEFALL by Jessica Barry, a book as mysterious as its writer who only writes under the pseudonym of "Jessica Barry." The novel itself could at first appear to be lacking in many ways, as James Patterson wannabe, but just keep reading. Barry has every chance to cast her reader off into simple backstories with even more simple (and unbelievable) explanations as to why characters want what they want, and think what they think. Instead, Barry avoids the typical formula of her male counterparts and creates two incredibly wonderful and distinct female voices, women who will not be stopped no matter what man or men tell them to, and who will not be silenced--or killed--no matter how many times a gun is head to their head. The novel functions while vacillating between a mother (Maggie) and daughter (Allison) and occasionally an unknown pursuer, ready to kill any and everyone he gets his hands on. The story is told forward and in reverse, and neither plot lines lack entertainment, thrills, chills, intense character development, and eventually a beautiful, stunning, perhaps even overwhelmingly worthwhile conclusion that the characters have worked for. What's that they say in writing class? "Any conclusion is believable as long as the character has earned it"? These women do earn their conclusions. The novel begins with the plane crash where Allison, one of two occupants, is the sole survivor. She manages to begin her escape, and it seems to be clear that someone is pursuing her--but who would pursue Allison through the Colorado Rockies? That's a part of the mystery, but the mystery doesn't stop there. Maggie, Allison's mother who has remained in Maine even after Maggie's husband's death, learns that her daughter is dead. Definitely dead. Even though they cannot find Allison's body or any remains that would go along with the death story. Maggie begins to dig herself, and as we work backward through Allison's past and Maggie's investigation we learn some scary things--mostly things that men have done to Allison, and we learn of a world of rape, domestic abuse, all types of things Maggie did not wish for her daughter, and never would have wished for her daughter. These two are reconciling with their pasts and their presents--Alison as she rushes to find peace, sanctuary, some place where she might be safe from this killer and perhaps get back to her mother, and from there she needs to get to Maine. Maggie meanwhile needs to find out about a mysterious death come into contact with her after the discovery of the plane crash, and try and learn to the best of her abilities exactly what happened with Allison and how she might get her daughter back finally. Hold on to your seats and be prepared for tears and giant adrenaline rushes--this may not be Terms of Endearment, but it's certainly making its own mark in the literary world. FREEFALL is just that--the fear of letting go, and the escalation through the downfall as you learn exactly how intense, gripping, frightening, and finally beautiful this book actually is. And how badass its leading heroines are.
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