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All Fall Down

As author Dasha Kelly handed over a review copy of her novel, All Fall Down (Syntax Publishing), she chided, “It’s a quick read; you can get it done in a weekend.” It was not quickly read at all. A month and two deadlines later, I was able to close the book and begin this review. A world like the one that is depicted in this work of fiction really does exist. It is a world where mental illness runs rampant and is often ill-treated, a world where dating can be likened to tooth extraction, and a world where a woman can be both “striking, but not astonishing.” The book was both difficult to read and difficult not to read. It resembled a playful expose of women’s images of self, beauty, sexuality, and endurance — and a stingingly familiar tale of infidelity. In 136 small pages, All Fall Down delves into the lives of two women–one straddling the proverbial mental illness fence; the other enjoying a healthy relationship and flourishing career. What occurs when the two unite makes for a tale that is gripping, familiar, and heart wrenching. Events in the story are refreshingly unpredictable, beginning with Denise’s passive-aggressive confession to Emorie, alluding to the relationship that she is having with Emorie’s husband. It isn’t your patent, best-friend-cheating-with-my-husband theme. That theme is complicated by Denise’s lust for sex – of any kind – with almost anyone. Emorie’s quick temper adds to the mix. Kelly’s flair for story-telling is poetic. During an uncharacteristic fight scene between the two friends, she writes, “They tumble violently, a tangle of bronze and amber. Completely absorbed in the scents, sounds and surges of combat. Emorie felt a tiny pore spring wide open on her body and gasped desperately for air.” Her style also drops readers into the mind of Denise, a deluded, covetous mind full of self sabotage. For the rest of the women’s journeys, they struggle with how the undeniably human aspect of love gets tangled in false friendships, colored by lies, and tested by faith. Perhaps on the surface the book is a “quick read,” but it is also an epic that frustrated me enough that I was forced to close the book several times. It’s a wildly entertaining read, forcing critical thought and begging what-ifs, I felt a sigh of relief at the end…sort of. Dasha Kelly’s book can be found at Schwartz, Readers’ Choice, Cultural Connection, Amazon, and other major store chains.
All Fall Down