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THE FALL OF LISA BELLOW BY SUSAN PERABO

PUBLISHED BY SIMON & SCHUSTER
REVIEW BY KAT ROBERTSON

During an armed robbery, Lisa Bellow is abducted. She leaves Meredith Oliver to lie helplessly on the floor, the last person to see her. In the inevitable turmoil that follows, Meredith struggles to find meaning in the occurrence while her mother Claire attempts to maintain a relationship with her daughter, despite all her efforts being rebuffed.

As Meredith internalises the events in order to cope, her perspective on everyone around her changes. Some relationships decompose while others blossom. The Fall of Lisa Bellow explores the binary between the mental breakdown of the survivor, suddenly an adult, and her mother, cast aside. Claire’s role is suddenly complete and she’s forced to stand on the sidelines to watch as her child falls apart.

Perabo gets into the minds of her characters, from Claire's fury over the mistreatment of her child, to Meredith's complete mental breakdown as she descends into shock. This is a classic example of an author utilising her medium to the fullest extent. She uses language and inner voice to convey the complete destruction of the thought process. Reminiscent of The Horse Whisperer, the novel delves even deeper into concepts of loss, blame, and the coping mechanisms that people use to survive their darkest hours.

Perabo treads a fine line between a intellectual thriller and psychological drama. Poignant and engrossing, it’s a brutally honest look at relationships and family during trauma. Yet it also has an element of humour injected into it, almost inappropriately, like the sudden urge to laugh at a funeral. The unbearable waiting that permeates the book creates a suspense that means turning away would be impossible. This book asks a simple question (what next?) with a very complicated answer. As the whole town waits for Lisa's possible return, the survivors can't help but search for meaning, when there is none. 

Find this novel in store at Planet Books. Ask the friendly staff for guidance too, and they’ll be more than happy to order you in a copy if it’s already sold out.