In The Fall of Lisa Bellow, author Susan Perabo, examines the widening circle of anxiety and post-traumatic stress in the aftermath of a child’s abduction. Fourteen-year-old Meredith Oliver stops by the local deli after school — just a normal day. Lisa Bellow, one of the “mean girls” in Meredith’s class, is there, too. When the deli is robbed the girls are forced to lie on the floor, then the robber leaves, taking Lisa with him. Lisa smiles and tells Meredith it will be okay, then leaves with the man.
The book explores Meredith’s reaction and slow recovery from this trauma, and also that of her mother, Claire, her father, Mark, and her brother, Ethan, as well as Lisa’s mother, Colleen Bellow. Although the book opened with a focus on Ethan, who has his own issues, a large portion of the story focused on Claire, with her doubts about her marriage, her strained relationship with her parents, and her efforts to reach Meredith. Colleen Bellow seems less worried about her missing daughter than may be expected, and takes comfort in surrounding herself with Lisa’s friends. Those same friends who considered Meredith not cool enough to be with the “cool kids” suddenly befriend her hoping to gain information about the life-shattering experience.
Meanwhile, Meredith struggles with teenage thoughts such as, “Why didn’t he take me?” and “He took the pretty one.” Consumed with survivor’s guilt, and self-doubt, Meredith imagines where Lisa is and what she is doing. Suspenseful, yet difficult to read, this book simultaneously lays bare the aching pain and despair that follows violence and kidnapping, and reveals the psychological differences in the ways in which juveniles and adults handle trauma.
Although the author provides a searing yet beautiful view into a shattered family, and their resilience while rebuilding the fabric of their family, this reader found it to be slow-paced, even plodding at times. Yet from the perspective of demonstrating the psychological aspects of dealing with life-shattering issues such as this, the book is a masterpiece.
What Made This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
The story ends without resolving the crime.