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Falling into the Sun: 10/05/09
When I read a book, I set it aside before writing my review. Reading a book or watching a film for that matter muddles my brain. Sure, I'll have an initial gut response but I need time to fully absorb the experience of reading or watching. Sometimes a story that I didn't connect with sneaks up on me and after due reflection I come to like or even love it. Falling into the Sun by Charrie Hazard is one of these books.
Christian fiction (and perhaps other religious fiction as well) and horror share a border. On that border are books like Rosemary's Baby (Ira Levin), The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty), The Amityville Horror (Jay Anson) and The Sentinel (Jeffrey Konvitz). While Falling into the Sun isn't a horror novel and isn't completely a Christian novel either, it experiments with both genres.
Kate Nardek teaches horror at the local community college. She has come home from a class and discovers her neighbor has just committed suicide in his garage. The shock of seeing his death haunts her and brings into question her own uneasy family life. She realizes that if things don't change her son might end up following a similar tragic path or doing something worse if he can't keep his violence in check.
In the process of recovering from seeing the suicide Kate turns to religion along with counseling. The way in which the neighbor haunts uses many of the horror conventions but the book is otherwise a novel about mental health and spirituality.
When I first read the book I got too distracted by the competing themes: the horror of suicide, the son's mental illness and long discussions on the nature of good and evil. My preliminary notes were rather negative because I was too focused on the weakness of the book to not see its strengths.
I didn't see how everything comes together until about a week after finishing the book when I came across an attempted suicide. Things turned out better for this person in that he was alive and able to be rescued but it was just as traumatic. It was then that I clicked with Falling into the Sun. I too have been haunted by the attempted suicide and since my children were also involved, they have too. I have had to answer their questions and help them deal with their uneasy feelings.
So while I still see the flaws in the book and think the transitions between themes could have been more even, I have gone from thinking of the book as "just okay" to recommending it my friends. If you have had any sort of traumatic experience in your life, read Falling into the Sun.
Comment #1: Monday, October, 5, 2009 at 14:46:40
This was a great review/recommendation. I'm sorry you and your kids had such an experience though.
Comment #2: Sunday, October 11, 2009 at 12:44:02
Thank you. I'm glad you like the review. I wish we had just been able to finish our day of exploring without the attempted suicide but I'm glad we were able to help. They seem fine... probably better than I am.