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“Friends help each other when they are . . . you know . . . going up against international hitmen and stuff,” Noah. –All Fall Down
All Fall Down
An Embassy Row Novel # 1
by Ally Carter
Three years after her mother’s death, Grace is sent to live with her grandfather, a powerful ambassador who is too busy to spend any time with her. Thrust into a new situation, Grace isn’t sure who to trust. Grace has never been close to her childhood companion, Megan, and wonders why she would want to help her. Her new friend Noah claims to want to be her best friend. Her brother’s best friend Alexei says he’s watching out for her out of obligation. Are they really her friends or do they have other motivations for staying close to Grace?
Grace wants to keep out all thoughts of her mother’s death, but visions of her mother keep appearing. While Grace’s grandfather wants her to put on a pretty dress and attend functions at his side, Grace doesn’t seem to be able to stay out of trouble. When the mysterious Scared Man from her past appears, Grace overhears his plans to kill. Convinced that the Scared Man is responsible for killing her mother, Grace goes on a mission to stop him from killing again.
Grace narrates her own story, which allows the reader to see into her troubled mind and understand her terror. Grace believes that others think she is crazy because she witnessed her mother’s death; despite appearing completely normal, she struggles with panic attacks and visions of her mother. Grace saw her mother being shot in the chest, so why does everyone say the death was an accident?
Full of suspense, interesting characters, and plot twists, All Fall Down is an entertaining story that will leave the reader reaching for the next book in the series. For those who enjoyed the Gallagher Girls series, All Fall Down will not disappoint. However, All Fall Down has a more serious tone with more violence. Although the violence is not described in gory detail and is appropriate for younger audiences, Grace’s mother’s death is described in a detailed flashback. Even though the book is written for readers as young as twelve, as the series progresses there are some readers that will not be ready for the more mature themes.
- Feeling overwhelmed, Grace runs from the house. As she backs out of the door, a “hand grabs me from behind” and she lashes out. “A cry rises up my throat, primitive and raw, and then I’m pushing and lunging. Falling. As I land in the rosebushes, I can feel the thorns of a rosebush tearing into my skin, clinging to my clothes.” In her panic, she hit the Russian ambassador, giving him a bloody nose.
- While Grace is sleeping, a boy sneaks into her room and tries to wake her up. Startled, “I wrench the boy’s hand farther back, holding his thumb with my other hand.” After they talk, they sneak out of the house to attend a party.
- Grace is told a story about a royal family that was murdered. The person speaking says, “The people stormed the palace and dragged Alexander and his family from their beds.” No other description is given.
- Grace thinks that the Scared Man is going to kill the Russian president so she jumps off a balcony. When she jumps, “everyone is watching as I hurl myself over the railing. Even the U.S. Secret Service can do nothing but watch as I fly through the air and crash onto the Scared Man’s back.” Later she finds out that the Scared Man was holding a cell phone, not a gun.
- Someone tries to kill Grace. “There’s a fence at my back. I can’t move any farther, and that is when the prime minister lunges for me, grabbing my arms in his massive hands, squeezing like a tourniquet. . . I can’t think anymore, so I just start kicking, screaming.” She struggles with her attacker, “when my elbow makes contact with his nose, I hear a sickening snap and feel the warm gush of blood on the back of my neck.”
- Grace witnessed her mother’s death. “. . . I am standing there, watching my mother fall, bloody and broken. . .” The person who tried to help her was injured. “Blood rains down his face. His left eye is swollen shut. And the skin on his left cheek is almost black with blood, singed skin, and a rugged cut that runs from brow to jaw.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Grace takes prescription pills that help her deal with anxiety. Several times she refers to the pills. When she has a panic attack she doesn’t want anyone to find out because, “It will be just like after (her mother’s death). With the pills and the shrinks and the looks.”
- After Grace jumps off a balcony and lands on the Scared Man, she is given more medication. The medication makes her act differently. The medicine makes Grace shake “my body like a pendulum that can never quite stop moving.”
- Someone drugs Grace so that she will go to sleep. After she takes the drugs, she thinks, “I want to argue and demand answers, but it is all I can do to focus on the glass that is falling, shattering on the floor. Two seconds later, I follow.”
- Grace’s grandfather “pours himself a drink, I can tell it isn’t the first of the night. The way things are going, it almost certainly won’t be his last.”