Premise: it’s Canada in 1973 and Joe’s best friend Brian has gone missing, along with his strange father, who has put Brian’s mother in the hospital. Amid news reports of the Watergate scandal, hippies and many references to Steely Dan, Joe is determined to find out what happened o his friend.
Thoughts: I received an e-ARC of this book via NetGalley, having requested it because I was on the hunt for some obscure and unusual YA. Fall in One Day delivers in both respects; I’m really keen to find more YA set in different historical periods, even those that aren’t really so long ago, and, although Nixon and Watergate are far away from Joe’s search for Brian, they help to create a general atmosphere of suspicion and paranoia which work really well in the novel. I would hope that an actual teen reader (rather than a wannabe-teen-but-actually-mid-30s one like me) would be attracted to the idea of reading something with an unfamiliar context like this.
The story itself is unpredictable, with the air of a thriller about it. There’s a big shift in tone and focus about two-thirds of the way through, which adds a new dimension (not literally – it doesn’t turn into a space travel epic) to the plot. It feels jarring and strange to the reader, but that’s exactly how it feels to the characters too, so it works. I stayed just the right side of convinced by Joe’s anxious pursuit of Brian; it’s melodramatic, obviously, but believable and I did find myself both really wanting to know where he was and why his dad had taken him.
There were a few little things that niggled; Joe is always really rude to his mum, which annoyed me, and some of the psychadelic dialogue didn’t fully convince me. But these are little issues in a YA book which is generally intriguing and original.
In Conclusion: Fall in One Day is a refreshing change of pace in YA, where contemporary stories and fantasy seem to dominate. I’d love to read more YA set in different era; it’s already a given in general fiction, and something I hope becomes more mainstream in YA. Fall in One Day is a great place to start.