The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle
Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well. (Goodreads)
Caggie has been hailed as a hero for saving the life of a fellow classmate who was attempting to jump from a rooftop one night at a party. She can barely handle the praise because she knows it’s all a lie. And worse, not only is she far from being the hero, she’s guilty of something even more heinous. Her younger sister Haley died several months ago after drowning in a pool while under Caggie’s watch and Caggie is barely surviving the guilt. She’s cut ties with her boyfriend, Trevor, and basically just tries to get through each day under the weight of the pain she’s enduring. She knows her father blames her and she, of course, agrees with him.
Caggie needs to escape her life as she’s always known it. Everything is a reminder of Hayley or of the fact that she’s not the savior everyone thinks she is. She meets Astor, a beautiful but troubled boy new to her schoo,l and in some ways, he feels like the answer. He experienced a great loss and he understands the pain she’s going through. When she realizes that maybe Astor is disturbed more deeply than anyone really knows, it may be too late to pull away.
I had a tough time with this book. I loved Serle’s first book, When You Were Mine, but this is entirely different. I liked the premise, this mystery of what really happened the day Caggie saved her classmate’s life (it’s revealed early on, but there’s so much depth in the how and the why). And the story of Hayley is absolutely heartbreaking. Yes, this is a rich girl with rich girl problems, but that didn’t bother me. I felt for her in the loss of Hayley and this tremendous guilt she was suffocating under, but I didn’t fall in love with Caggie’s voice. There was little passion there, and so little to relate to. And I felt the same about Astor. There was nothing about him that drew me in. In fact, the creepy alerts were up high and fast where he was concerned.
I also didn’t understand her family. They had so little contact with Caggie, even without them knowing the truth about the classmate incident, it seemed they didn’t do much to help her with the obvious responsibility she felt for her sister’s death. Of course, they were all struggling with that loss in different ways, but I found it hard to believe that their oldest daughter, still a kid, wasn’t more of a priority. If she said she was okay–despite her attitude and actions proving otherwise–they accepted it. How can anyone be okay after that?
On the upside, I loved two characters: Trevor and Hayley. Trevor is loyal and loving in every way, a friend to Caggie and her family, a life raft when she’s sinking and doesn’t realize she needs help. And Hayley, who we only get to know during flashbacks, is painfully beautiful, sweet and joyful, and she’s characterized in such a way that as the reader, I felt her loss in a big way; I could see what a hole she left in their lives.
All in all, there were pieces of this book I enjoyed, parts of the story that spoke to me, but it was not what I was expecting. While some portions were very good, and the dialogue was well-done, I didn’t get fully invested.
Crush Intensity: 3/5
Thank you to Simon Pulse and Net Galley for providing me with an e-galley in exchange for an honest review.