Have you ever read a book, finished it, and then after closing it you felt so affected by it, you began to cry? That’s what happened when we read The Falling by Anna Todd. It’s been a while since we read a book that made us feel so many emotions but that’s one of things we love about Todd and her stories.
Just to give you a bit of background on this story, back in 2018 it was self-published by Todd under the name The Brightest Stars. During the pandemic we all did a lot of self-reflection and during that time the author spent time looking over the story and realized it wasn’t truly her voice. Because of this she did something that was unexpected. She re-wrote the entire book, and that re-write became The Falling which is now part of The Brightest Stars series.
As someone who has read The Brightest Stars, I can honestly say that I agreed. When I read it, I liked the story, but it left me feeling like something was missing. I did feel like Annas voice wasn’t fully there and the story didn’t move me like her previous books had. The new version of the story is something else entirely different and I just loved it. I can honestly say it’s one of my top reads of 2022.
Here’s the synopsis:
Twenty-year old Karina is proud of the independent life she is trying to create for herself in Fort Benning, Georgia. A dutiful officer’s daughter, supportive sister to a troubled twin brother, and caring friend to her roommate, Elodie, she always puts the needs of others ahead of her own, and prides herself on being a fixer of broken things―whether it’s the house she’s just bought or the fragmented family she works hard to keep intact.
Like anyone who has grown up around an army base, Karina also knows the background noise that follows men and women home from war. And when she meets Kael, a handsome soldier on the cusp of discharge, she’s immediately intrigued by his brooding presence and enigmatic silence. As their uncertain and unexpected friendship starts to turn into something more, Karina tries to piece together Kael’s story: he is emotionally closed off, recovering from wounds and other trauma in the aftermath of two deployments in Afghanistan. In her practice as a physical therapist, Karina has a strong desire to help him heal, and though it challenges her many insecurities and anxieties, she has an equally strong desire to trust him. But that trust is fragile, like the preciousness of a soldier’s life. It can be gone in an instant. Ultimately facing a crossroads, Karina and Kael find their relationship will be tested by the one thing that Karina cannot accept, forgive, or understand.
The Falling is a story that is literally about the act of falling in love. Karina and Kael come into each other’s lives during a time when they are both dealing with their own set of personal trauma and past hurts. What I loved about it is that Todd told this story in a realistic way. Nothing is rushed between Karina and Kael. They have simple conversations, and they start off as friends. This is often how most relationships start. Their friendship lasts for awhile but grows into something more despite both of them saying early on that they could never be in a relationship because he’s a soldier.
Karina has set rules for her life. Coming from a military family she saw how much her mother was affected by her father being in the army. The uncertainty and wondering whether he would come home once he deployed was always something difficult to deal with. It’s affected Karina so much that she and her twin brother even have a pact that neither one of them would ever join the army.
Initially when Kael meets Karina he’s very closed off. While it frustrates Karina she does understand, and she allows him the time and space to open up when he’s ready. Being in the army and serving two tours in Afghanistan Kael’s seen a lot and its obvious he’s affected by it. Though he is working on discharging soon, his time in the army will always follow him. He’s dealing with both mental and physical scars and that’s what ultimately causes him to see Karina for treatment.
It’s fitting that Karina works in massage therapy considering how healing touch can be. Kael is apprehensive at first, but Karina makes him feel so comfortable that soon his treatments really do turn into more than just physical therapy sessions. They can both open up more and share their thoughts and feelings about things. Though he does start to tell Karina a little bit more, there are still so many things that we have yet to learn about him.
I found myself relating to Karina a lot reading The Falling. She is very self-deprecating and it’s a bad habit. She’s always so in her own head and she tends to let her doubts get the best of her. I do that too and I don’t know any woman out there who hasn’t obsessed over things the way Karina does. Questioning her relationship with Kael was a common one but with her not knowing as much as she wants, we get it.
Karina is also someone who has her own set of secrets too. There are things I would still like to learn about her. There’s something else under the surface that hasn’t been discovered yet. I feel like as the series goes on, whatever it is will be revealed. I know she’s told Kael a lot about her past but she hasn’t told him everything.
One of the things I appreciated about this story was that Anna was sure to showcase the differences in Karina and Kael’s backgrounds. Kael being a black man and Karina being a white woman, their worlds are very different but still somewhat similar. They know all the things about what the army does to a person but because Kael is a black man his experiences and treatment in life are not the same. There’s a chapter in the book where Todd really nailed it. Karina and Kael are an interracial couple living in the state of Georgia and things have changed in the world but not that much. It was important to see that.
Following Karina and Kael’s journey from friends to lovers was really beautiful. The slow burn is everything. I know some people want to have all these hot and heavy sex scenes in a Romance book but that build up is amazing to me because when the moment finally does come, it feels real. I think what Anna did with these two and their intimate moments works just fine. Having them just hop right into sex doesn’t feel like them. There’s something special about Karina and Kael spending time together creating that intimacy that is not just sex. Hugs, kisses, and touches are important too and sexual tension can be just as sexy. Who knew that having a man paint your fingernails could be not just sweet but also sexy?
The Falling is an amazing story and it left me feeling so emotional once I finished reading it. If you’re looking for a love story that is authentic, I highly recommend grabbing a copy.
- “I’ll be able to tell if he often thinks of me by the way he looks at me. He isn’t a mystery anymore, he is now a memory.”
- “It depends if you’re looking at the intent or the impact that intention has on other people.”
- “Stars seemed so fierce and bright, but by the time they got to us, they were dying, almost gone. And the biggest stars? They burned the fastest, as if their intense radiance was too much for them to hold on to.”
- “I didn’t want to bend who I was, or what I listened to, or what I liked to watch, for someone else. It wasn’t a fear of commitment, it was about compromising who I was and what I believed.”
- “Give a man power and he’ll rule, then ruin the world.”
- “The brightest stars burn the fastest, so we must love them while we can.”
- “Kael opened up like a thousand novels written just for me, and I longed for the chance to read them all.”