Book Review: After She Falls

28 Dec

I chose a book outside of my regular reading box with After She Falls by Carmen Schober. While there were a few things about the book I found daunting, I am glad I read it. It is what I would call a stretch book. Recommended!

She’s always had that fire in her. She just needs to find it again.

Strong-willed Adri Rivera nearly achieved her goal of being a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who knocked all the fight out of her. When their abusive, tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together again. 

A hardened Max Lyons can’t believe Adri is back in town after abruptly cutting him and everyone else off years ago. Despite the distance that grew between them, he feels compelled to help her regain her independence and offers her a job at his gym. But regaining each other’s trust is another matter, made even more complicated by the lingering spark between them. As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, she trains for a big tournament with Max’s help, but they’ll both have to confront their own doubts in order to rise victorious.

Carmen Schober is a debut novelist, wife, full-time mother to two daughters, avid boxer, and Rocky enthusiast. A graduate of Kansas State University, where she earned a master’s degree in English literature and creative writing, she currently lives in Manhattan, Kansas. She has published sports fiction in Witness magazine and Hobart Pulp, and she regularly blogs about faith, family, and fighting at www.carmenschober.com

My Impressions:

After She Falls by debut author Carmen Schober was a stretch read for me. What does that mean? Well, there were a number of elements of this novel that are definitely outside my comfort zone. The characters in the novel are MMA trainers and fighters. That’s mixed martial arts for those who are as clueless as me. 😉 There are a number of fight scenes that realistically depict the sport including broken bones and blood. Really not my scene, however, I had heard enough buzz to be intrigued. The main thing that definitely was within my comfort zone was the highly realistic and relatable characters. No, I’m not ready to take up boxing or judo, but I appreciated the real-life struggles these characters faced. They struggled with being good enough, with overcoming mistakes (many life-changing ones), and seeking a good and gracious God of second chances. Second, third, and maybe fourth chances are all depicted as the characters seek to make sense of the world and their place in it. The book is full of messy lives — I told you, realistic. While most of the characters are the same ages as my kids, I loved that Schober had two strong mature secondary characters that could share their own failures and triumphs. Their wisdom and guidance was important to the main character’s growth and mirrored the necessity of mentors in faith for any age group. I did find the reading process slow — the book is told in present tense which caused me to re-read passages. I’m not sure why I had trouble with this, but I did. But After She Falls was intriguing, interesting, and worth the time it took me to read.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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