I’m featuring a review today of an amazing women’s fiction novel that brings all the emotions and hope: The Joy of Falling by Lindsay Harrel.
Eva and Angela must learn to live again. One step at a time.
It has been fifteen months since Eva and Angela lost their thrill-seeking husbands in a scuba diving accident. Both women are trying to navigate their way through the grief, but neither one is making much progress. Angela is barely making ends meet, angry at her husband for leaving her to raise three children on her own. Meanwhile, Eva is stuck, unable to move forward after losing the love of her life and her source of inspiration.
But then Eva gets a life-changing phone call. Before Brent and Wes died, they had signed up for a race of a lifetime—an ultra-marathon in beautiful New Zealand. Eva begs Angela to run the race with her in their husbands’ place, and Angela finally agrees, hoping to finally understand her husband’s choices.
Training is exhausting, and the race is even more demanding. Their journey grows more complicated by the presence of two men—Marc is Brent’s best friend who is running the race with Eva and Angela, and Simon King is a writer who is covering their inspiring story. With every step, Eva and Angela must ask themselves questions that they haven’t had the courage to ask before. As the women literally put one foot in front of the other, they wonder: Is it possible to find their way forward in hope?
The Joy of Falling is an amazing story of grief and healing, joy and triumph, and the importance of relationships in every aspect of life (family, friendships, romance). Oh, and a little armchair adventure in New Zealand happens along with ALL THE FEELS.
I believe anyone who has experienced grief can relate to this story. While these characters lose their husbands, their journey of grief shows how it manifests uniquely to each person and is simultaneously universal. I appreciate how Harrel clearly communicates that with this story – giving these characters permission to grieve differently, showing its stages and waves in a relatable way.
While the weightier aspects of grief and fear are a part of this story, its bright JOY and honesty are the best parts. Eva and Angela each grow and benefit from their relationships in this story, both as sisters, daughters, and, in Angela’s case, as a parent. The importance of friendship is spotlighted, as are a couple tentative friendship-and-romance relationships. These are developed carefully and with a refreshing honesty in the face of the emotional trials both Angela and Eva are experiencing.
This emotional and enlightening journey plays out for the characters in a most vivid setting: New Zealand. Harrel has captured the place wonderfully, in a setting-as-a-character manner. Its varied terrain is a catalyst and metaphor for the perseverance Eva, Angela, and Marc must prove in their marathon and in their season of change.
It was a blessing to read this story at this moment in my life: its message of joy as an overarching theme and anchor, as opposed to fleeting happiness, becomes a constant for the characters and a reminder we all need in this world.
I’ll end my thoughts with one of my favorite quotes from the novel:
“How was it possible to feel so much love and hope in the midst of tragedy?”-The Joy of Falling
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy. This is my honest review.
This sounds like one of those themes to which we can all relate. I would really like to read this book!
As a Kiwi, I can definitely agree with your comment about setting as character, although I never considered living here in New Zealand to be a metaphor …