After battling a brain tumour twenty-nine year old Emma thinks she is in the clear, but her world comes crashing down around her when she is told her fight was in vain, and there is nothing more the doctors can do.
Realising that she won’t now have time to achieve the things she dreamed of, Emma decides to write her perfect life in a story. She imagines all the things she would have done, the places she would have seen, the husband she would have shared her life with and the family they would have raised. And, mysteriously, as she writes her story, she starts to notice that some of her dreams seem to be coming true.
Initially, I was a little bit reluctant to read Another Way To Fall as I thought it would be a depressing read due to the subject matter, however I loved Yesterday’s Sun and wanted to read more from this talented writer. After reading the blurb, I started thinking that maybe this book would be more uplifting than the tone seemed to suggest, however I do think the blurb led me to believe there would be a little more magic than there actually was.
The book begins with Emma being given the all clear after a three year battle with cancer but it isn’t long before you realise that the opening paragraphs are actually part of Emma’s book, written before she goes into her doctor’s office to learn the opposite. Emma’s tumour has returned and the prospects are not good. As Emma slowly comes to terms with the fact she has been handed a death sentence, she begins to imagine how her life should have played out and decides to continue writing her book from that perspective. The overall tone of this book is how Emma is being cheated of the life she should have been able to live and the contrasts between her fantasy life and that of her reality are very poignant.
Emma’s life in her book is very idyllic in the sense that everything is pretty much perfect but considering what she is facing in reality, you really can’t begrudge it. Initially, Emma is the only one who knows what she is writing about but as time progresses she starts to involve her family and friends as they soon become caught up in the fantasy. Emma also falls in love with Ben, a young man who has been part of her life for awhile, but he has chosen to make his feelings known to Emma so they don’t waste precious time. Emma tries to push Ben away because she knows their time is limited and wants to spare him the heartache but Ben persists, accusing Emma of forgetting she has to live in the real world too. I loved Ben and Emma’s relationship and when you see how they get to live to a ripe old age in Emma’s book, you can’t help thinking how cruel it is that they won’t really have that.
The book world Emma inhabits in her head isn’t all sunshine and roses though, as Emma also uses it to come to terms with unresolved issues such as her father’s abandonment and her need to understand why he walked out on his family in the first place. When Emma learns her father has two young daughters, the knowledge cuts her deeply because she realises those little girls will experience having a father in the way she never did and also exacerbates her deep desire to be a mother herself. The passages where Emma regrets not being able to have children, and then decides to include them in her book, are so emotionally intense and I sobbed while reading them. Much of Emma’s fantasy life is easy to accept at face value, such as getting or losing her dream job, but moments like these are harder to ignore for they are based on something far more painful.
The blurb implies that much of Emma’s fantasy life starts to become true but this is misleading, or maybe I simply misunderstood, because it only spills over in the sense that Emma sometimes finds it harder separating both worlds when she is having a seizure. As Emma’s condition deteriorates, she retreats more and more into the fantasy world where she and Ben are now old and I found it a far more comforting place to be as Emma neared the end.
Another Way To Fall may not be for everyone but I found it a thought-provoking read with an amazing character at its heart. You will fall in love with Emma and mourn her loss along with her friends and family but be happy she got to experience her life in a different but inspiring way. I love Amanda Brooke’s writing because it is so obvious she puts her heart and soul into it.