Title: Fall Out Girl
Author: L. Duarte
Release Date: March 21, 2015
Imagine a social outcast: Me. (Luna)
Imagine a popular boy: Him. (Caleb)
Sound like the characters of a cliché story, right? Here, hold my hand. Come away with me. I’ll tell you my story, and you’ll decide.
But I have a warning: Proceed at your own risk. Since it’s a snippet of my life, I’m one of the main characters. And to put it lightly, I’m not the most likable person in the world, cue the earned label. Also, unlike fairy tales, my story is real with a dash of sorrow and loss.
How do I start? Once upon a time…? Shoot me now, please.
The beginning? No, too boring.
Well, let’s start with the catalytic moment that set in motion a chain of events that changed my life, yet again.
As for a happily ever after? Sorry, no spoilers here. You’re going to have to figure that one out on your own. After you read my tale, it becomes yours, and as such, you’re entitled to your interpretation.
So, off we go!
Fasten your seat belts. This ride may get bumpy.
Fall Out Girl was my first novel from L. Duarte and it was a whirlwind of emotion from start to finish. This story kept my head spinning and my heart breaking as I experienced Luna and Caleb’s journey. I was immediately intrigued with Luna, captivated by the pain and anger she carried around at such a young age and the type of life she seemed so hell-bent on living. Further reeled in by the unusual connection between Luna and Caleb, I found myself determined to explore their entertaining and surprisingly sweet dynamic. Fall Out Girl was filled with vibrant imagery that brought this story to life. L. Duarte writes with heart, her passion for this story evident on each and every page. Her thoughtful prose was breathtaking, oftentimes taking on a lyrical quality that soothed the ache in my heart brought on by the emotional turbulence of this story.
“The tricky thing about fear is: It wears a different mask every day.”
Admittedly, I had a hard time getting into this story at first. Luna’s inner monologue was strange at times, bordering on trying too hard to be clever. As the story progressed, her voice matured and I found myself better appreciating her sassy quips – their less frequent occurrence feeling far more genuine. Luna was an enigma and I enjoyed exploring the dichotomy of this character. L. Duarte skillfully juxtaposed the two sides of Luna to create the stormy emotional environment of this novel. The feisty, detached drug dealer was constantly warring with the vulnerable, broken girl leaving readers to wonder who the real Luna was and it was this mystery that kept me reading. As L. Duarte unraveled this character, I found myself in awe of the fierce love Luna exhibited towards those she cared about. Her misguided but touching self-sacrifice quickly became my favorite thing about this character.
“When Caleb’s arms had been around me, my chest felt less hollow, and my soul was no longer as dreary. Could I survive such a vulnerable place?”
While I liked Caleb overall, this character was somewhat inconsistent. His initial voice came across as age-appropriate with the added maturity of someone who had been through a lot in his life. However, the language used in Caleb’s more intimate moments with Luna was more than just experienced, it was that of someone much older, especially when contrasted with the incredibly childish behavior that followed. Even with eventually understanding his motivations, this disparity had already significantly disrupted the development of the character. As we got to know Caleb over the course of the story, hints of his own pain began to trickle through making me question the validity of his positive demeanor and giving this character more depth. I really enjoyed the tenacity with which Caleb pursued Luna. His disregard for the high school social agenda endeared him to me immediately and is what kept me so invested in him.
“For the duration of the time we were together, I wanted to see myself through his eyes. I wanted to feel alive, beautiful, and whole.”
Fall Out Girl isn’t a pretty story. It’s raw and gut wrenching and sometimes devastating. But it’s also beautiful, hopeful, and poignant. The storyline that L. Duarte has put together is a veritable rollercoaster, a whiplash of highs and lows that left me reeling. While I enjoyed the drama and angst that this story evoked, the pacing was uneven, saving the majority of the major turmoil for the second half while the first half of the novel didn’t do much to move the story forward. With all of the action consolidated at the end of the story, there were definitely some things I felt needed more explanation but the end result wasn’t dissatisfying. Fall Out Girl was certainly an enjoyable read and L. Duarte didn’t hesitate to stir up some difficult and raw emotions. Her characters were interesting and the storyline intriguing. I will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.
I was initially attracted to this standalone novel because of that stunning cover! The blurb was pretty unique and so I knew that I needed to figure out how to squeeze it in to my schedule. Now that I have finished, I’ve been stewing on how to go about reviewing it because I’m honestly just not sure how I really feel about it. There were some heartbreaking, raw moments in Fall Out Girl that took my breath away. Duarte also weaved in beautiful instances to somewhat compensate for that ugly. I often times felt like an emotional mess, not able to tell up from down.
“And though warfare is terrifying, we obey the voice, we engage in battle. We claw our nails to the walls, and we crawl out. The process may damage us beyond repair. Regardless, we do it. Why? It’s a complex reaction simply called survival.”
I loved how strong-headed and focused Luna was. For someone who could have so easily gotten lost in the shuffle and taken the easy way out, she stood her ground. She remembered her principles and aimed to achieve her goals, no matter what. I also adored the way she held onto the only family she had. Her cousin was everything to her and it showed how important family can be. That being said, I did have a really hard time connecting with the characters. As someone who comes from a similar background, it was incredibly difficult to put myself back in that headspace. While I could appreciate her tenacity and will to keep going forward, I felt an immense disconnect from her. The first two-thirds of the novel felt so narrative that I found myself wishing for an emotional grasp on her.
“You wear your mask well, love. Just remember not to become it.”
I really appreciated the journey from beginning to end that Luna had to experience. I felt like I was growing right alongside with her through every single trial she had to go through. However, there were some incidents that I found quite predictable. I wish that the author would have taken the last third of the novel and expanded on some pieces, and used that for the basis of the storyline. I think it would have helped the pacing and furthered the plot a little bit further. Fall Out Girl is one of those novels that I had a hard time reading in bits. I couldn’t truly get into it until I carved out the time to sit and polish it off because otherwise the flow felt very choppy.
“Remember that life is like climbing a mountain. The goal is to get to the top. However, what is relevant is the journey to get there. It will involve courage, tears, sweat, pain, effort, and perseverance. Be faithful to who you are, and always revisit your values. They are your core.”
Duarte has a raw, heartbreaking tale on her hands in Fall Out Girl. It became about so much more than a romance between a boy and a girl; in many ways, it was about Luna falling in love with herself. This isn’t a read that is hearts and flowers or that can be taken lightly. It has a deep undertone about the many ripples one event can create. Duarte’s writing is so poetic and vividly striking at times, that you can’t help but be gripped into the world she has created. This was my first book from this author, but I am definitely curious to see what else she can produce.
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