Even If I Fall

384p. Inkyard. Jan. 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781335541550.
Gr 9 Up—The author's latest follows Brooke, a girl who in dealing with the aftermath of her brother Jason's murder conviction, finds herself turning to Heath—the boy whose brother was murdered. Since the trial, Brooke's family has been isolated, harassed, and judged by everyone in her small Texas town. Her father spends all day in the basement, her mother is pretending everything is fine, and her younger sister has shut down. Without anyone to talk to, Brooke is silently grappling with the loss of her friends, in-person school, her missed opportunity to skate professionally, and most importantly, her big brother Jason. After a happenstance meeting, she begins to bond with Heath. She feels something is off about the details of that fateful night. Brooke confronts her feelings and family, and risks losing Heath, to find out the truth about the night her brother ruined their lives. The book starts off slowly, laying lots of groundwork and presenting character descriptions. Halfway through, the focus of the book shifts from Brooke's present-day to the page-turning account of the murder itself. Overall, Johnson manages to deliver book that feels authentic and realistic with a satisfying ending.
VERDICT A good choice for where contemporary fiction and thrillers laced with romance circulate well. Recommended for general purchase.

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