Review Blog

Jul 07 2017

The fall by Tristan Bancks

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Random House, 2017. ISBN 9780143783053
(Age: 12+) Highly recommended. Crime, Disability, Single parent families, Aboriginal themes. Recuperating from an operation to lengthen his leg, Sam is staying with the father who left before he was born. Sam has idelised him in comics that he writes but talking to him is difficult and when he walks out of his tiny apartment to get milk, Sam is left alone with the dog, Magic. Hearing noises in the apartment above he looks out of the window to see a person falling to the ground five stories below. He struggles down the stairs, only to find that the body has disappeared and the man who saw him watching over the balcony is nearby. Sam retreats, hiding in a cupboard beneath the stairs willing his father to return, but hearing instead someone trashing his apartment. He has read his father's articles about crime scenes and carefully gathers evidence.
When his father does eventually return, he promises to stay at home while he is out at work, but Sam looks for more evidence, talking to the girl in the flat above, and eventually seeking help at the police station. There he recognises the man he saw standing by the body but this time in a police uniform and again he retreats.
This fast paced involving story of one boy trying desperately to be a help to his father, a crime journalist, reflects that basic need in us all, to belong. My heart ached for Sam, craving his father's approval, thinking he is a help but putting his own life at risk to gather evidence. His dad, Harry is equally conflicted, and manages to say 'I love you' even if through the closed door.
The seamier side of city life is well defined and Sam's relationship with mum even via text messages, strongly depicted. Readers will readily recognise the problems Sam has with both parents and the bullies at school, and urge him on in his efforts to solve the crime. When Sam and his father are kidnapped by the murderer, things move along very quickly, until a resolution occurs which will satisfy all readers, bringing together father and son for the first time. I loved this tale and those in early secondary school will eat it up.
Fran Knight

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