Buy The Opposite of Falling Apart
Regular price $18.20
Publisher: Wattpad Books / Raincoast Books
Reviewer: Melissa on April 17, 2020
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Told in the dual POVs of Brennan, a teen who has an anxiety disorder that she doesn’t want to admit to, and Jonas, a teen who lost part of his left leg in a car accident one year earlier, The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good took me some time to read, but not because it isn’t a worthy YA title in which the characters spend the majority of the novel in their first year of college, rather than high school.
Jonas hasn’t driven since before the accident he had a year ago while his brother, Rhys, was driving. Rhys didn’t do anything wrong. It was a snowy day, and there was black ice on the road, which prohibited a trucker from stopping. He hit the passenger side of the car where Jonas was sitting, and since his left leg was crossed, it endured the bulk of the injury. After the accident, Jonas will get into a car when he has to go to a doctor’s appointment or some other mandatory activity, like school, but he doesn’t drive. Not until his sister forgot her permission slip for a field trip and his mom asks him to drop it off for his sister as a favour. Everything is going fine until he sees a tractor trailer, which causes him to pay less attention to what else was in front of him. Namely the bumper of Brennan’s car.
Brennan was on the way to work at the supermarket deli when the accident happens. Her anxiety causes her to freak out a little, unsure of what steps she should take. Should she get out and take his name and insurance, just in case? She knows that people should admit fault in an accident, but what else?
In this anxiety-inducing moment, two teens meet, exchange contact information, and so begins a series of text messages that lead to a series of in-person meet ups, walks to the library, the knowledge that while they’re both going to different colleges in the fall, they will be very close to one another at SIUE and Wash U respectively, and an argument that might very well jeopardize their friendship…or something more…before it ever really begins. But doesn’t quite do so.
While I can’t speak with any authority on whether or not the depiction of Jonas’ experience with losing half of left leg would be considered positive to someone with that disability, I can say with a lot more certainty, even before I read the acknowledgements, that Micah Good understands anxiety. In Brennan and Jonas, she offers characters who deal with anxiety in bigger and smaller ways respectively. For Jonas, even getting into the driver’s seat for even 15 minutes causes many symptoms of an anxiety attack. He sweats, finds that he can’t help but white knuckle the steering wheel, and is generally in a panic unless he’s in a situation where him driving might be the only way to help his sister or Brennan.
For Brennan, who has a diagnosed anxiety disorder and medication that she’s supposed to take, the majority of her life is affected and controlled by her anxiety. Sometimes something as seemingly small as the possibility of not being able to sit on the aisle seat in her lecture halls will make her skip day after day of her classes. She finds every little thing about living in a new place with unfamiliar smells and a roommate who will probably hate her or at least think she’s weird to be panic inducing before she even gets to SIUE. She worries about spending time with her roommate and her roommate’s friends, thinking that they’re only giving her pity invites. And more than anything, she needs a lot of reassurance from Jonas once they start becoming friends and something more because her anxiety is always telling her some really damaging things. And yes, Good writes Brennen’s anxiety as almost another character – someone that Brennen sees as being outside of who she really is – and anyone who has dealt with anxiety to such a degree that they can’t cope will understand why. If you don’t read this book for any other reason, I recommend checking it out for what I’ve already told you about the characterization of her characters’ nervousness and anxiety to get a better understanding of what it’s like for those who are struggling in a certain aspect of their lives or with this mental illness.
Beyond the romance and mental health angle of this book, a big part of it is about Brennen’s writing. She has a novel that she’s planning to share with a writing community called allfixx, which I suspect is much like Wattpad, where Good first wrote and shared this novel with an audience. So again, writers of original stories who might want to take it to the online publishing world, might be very interested in the way this part of the story is laid out. Then again, those seeking a more traditional publishing route may also get a lot out of her process and the issues of writer’s block that she has along the way for various reasons.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, though I didn’t notice a few scenes in which weird errors made it to the final version, such as when on their first date, Jonas tells the bus driver to leave, but then by the end of the page him and Brennen get on, presumably the same bus. Also, after taking a writing workshop with Sandhya Menon, the author of When Dimple Met Rishi, I found that there were parts that probably could be trimmed down for length and to make the story flow better, especially for how long it takes these two characters to admit to themselves that they are falling in love with their friend and freak out about it. Still neither of these issues took away my enjoyment of the novel.
If you’re looking for a great book about anxiety, disability, falling in love, and coming to terms with the other parental, sibling, and friend relationships in one’s life, then I recommend you check out The Opposite of Falling Apart.
Buy The Opposite of Falling Apart today and find out what over 2.3 million people saw in it on Wattpad!