Charrie Hazard: Falling Into the Sun

by Rachel Baker on October 16, 2011

I received a copy of Falling Into the Sun from Zard Tompkins, the woman who did the layout and design for the book.  I knew nothing about the book prior to receiving and wasn’t sure I was going to be interested after reading the jacket.  The good news is, it was well written enough to read the whole book in one sitting, however, Falling into the Sun was not really my cup of tea.

The story is about a woman who discovers her neighbor’s suicide, which leads to feelings of horror and despair.  On top of the traumatic experience of being confronted with someone else’s self-imposed death, she is the mother of an increasingly violent son with Bipolar Disorder.  Shortly after her discovery, she sees images of her son in the hanging position her neighbor’s body was in. And thus begins the woman’s journey into self-discovery and healing.

Much like with Carrie Host’s Between Me and the River, the subject matter was not something I’d experienced; so it was very very difficult for me to “get something” from the book.  That said, the book is written as a novel, mostly fictitious.  However, there’s a place at the end where the reader is told this book is based on the real events.  When I realized this, I felt like the book fell short – it was sterile of emotional writing.

When I read Between Me and the River, though I couldn’t relate, I was moved by the book, moved by the efforts of Carrie’s fight to survive.  I cried, I laughed and I cheered.  I was not moved by this book in the least.  I think this book would have benefited greatly if the author had pushed herself to dig deep and to describe the emotions rather than just using a word for the emotion felt at any given time.  Some may argue that the book is about her emotions, thus the need to find counseling.  Maybe, but I feel writing a book about the emotion allows an author to stay in a safe zone where they can describe the emotion without feeling the emotion.  I want to read Kate’s story, not the story about the suicide, and her son’s disorder.  I want Kate’s real thoughts and feelings – the ones that tell us what she was really thinking.  Its scary and tragic to see a dead man in your rear view mirror – don’t just tell me you felt like throwing up, describe the gut wrenching feeling, describe the fear of going crazy…describe it, don’t just tell the reader you had it.  That would turn this book into an inspirational book and one that EVERYONE could relate to.

It was also a bit heavy in the religion department for my tastes.   I find books with religious undertones quite fascinating…really, I do.  And, I recognize questioning your religion is something that happens when you are faced with someone else’s suicide.  I get that. However, I found that there was not a whole lot of Kate’s own contemplation, and a great deal of other people’s.  Why though?  There were conversations with other people where they stated their opinions on the Mother and the Father, but not a whole lot from Kate.  It seemed that Kate didn’t do a whole lot of introspective thinking on this topic.  I don’t really care about everyone else…the story was about Kate and her challenges.

There were an event or two out of place in the book, specifically the final conversation between Kate and her sister (when her sister was telling her she’s pregnant). Why would they talk about something as depressing as Kate’s son’s disorder in such detail when her sister is finally pregnant after being told she’d never be?  I think this conversation should be moved somewhere else in the book – like when Kate is going to see a counselor or when she’s going through all of the madness resulting from the suicide and getting her son into counseling.  Also, I didn’t get the sense that she and her sister had ever even talked about all the challenges Kate was having and this seemed so odd to me to have this conversation at this point in the book.

The other disjointed area was when Jean died.  In the book there’s this whole buildup with the great relationship between Jean and Kate, then Jean dies and well, there’s nothing else.  This seemed odd to me – great contemplation about Micheal’s suicide, and none with Jean’s – not even prolonged sadness. No extraneous contemplation about religion and the values it sets on different causes of death, yet it seems as if this would probably be something that one would contemplate if someone who was your chosen mother died.  That said, I thought the tree sparing Jean was an interesting thought.

Now, there are several sections where we get the story of Michael’s soul flying off. This was a distraction to me.  I’m all for the spiritual contemplation of what happens to the soul when one’s physical body dies.  However, combining the contemplation of this spiritual passing in this way with Kate’s story seemed a bit lazy.  Why didn’t Kate contemplate this rather than having a dead man whom we don’t know and really have no reason to care about as a character tell us the story of his creation into his next physical being?  Having Michael tell the story is a whole lot easier than trying to answer the questions of life-after-death one’s self.  I frankly think the book may actually benefit from these sections being taken out.  I went back and read these sections separately from Kate’s story and it was a much better reading.  I think if the author put out another edition, and she feels adamant about adding Micheal’s journey, it may benefit from two different sections – Kate’s story and then an afterword with Micheal’s story.

I know it may seem this review is a bit harsh, however, I assure you that when I read it, I was engaged and felt like it was worthy of a review.  I liked what the author was attempting to do, I just felt the book fell short.

I encourage you to pick up the book if you want a story about extremely heavy subject matter written in a light easy way.

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