cover image The Fall

The Fall

James Preller. Feiwel and Friends, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-64301-0

Preller returns to themes addressed in his 2009 novel, Bystander, in an equally painful story about the aftermath of a teenager's suicide. After relentless bullying online, high school outcast Morgan Mallen throws herself off a water tower, leaving her tormentors to grapple with guilt over how they treated her. The narrative is composed of confessional journal entries written by one of Morgan's classmates, Sam Proctor. "I'm a follower, if you want to know the truth," he writes. "What can I say?" One year earlier, manipulative classmate Athena dragged Sam and others into a game of making mean, anonymous posts on Morgan's social media page. Simultaneously, Sam began an awkward friendship with Morgan, but she discovered his betrayal. Now, Sam views his writing, a mix of essays and poems, as a sort of solitary confinement, a space in which he can reflect on his behavior. The journal format closely chronicles Sam's transformation from follower to leader, yet Preller avoids sermonizing, instead focusing on one individual's complicated process of grieving, accepting responsibility, and moving forward. Ages 9%E2%80%9314. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Sept.)