Fall on Your Knees
by Ann-Marie McDonald
completed November 2011
This had been on my TBR list forever, so I was extremely excited when I found a copy about a year ago at a charity shop. It's a thick one, so I kept putting it off, but I added to my list for Roof Beam Reader's 2011 TBR Pile Challenge in an effort to force myself to delve in. It was worth it.
Fall on Your Knees follows multiple generations of the Piper family. I don't really want to say much about the plot because I think there is more impact in reading it as it unfolds. This is my kind of book. It's character-driven, and the writing is beautiful. Dealing with abuse, you'd expect it to be depressing. At times it is, but not because MacDonald manipulates you into feeling that way. It only felt depressing because I loved these characters and empathized with the situations in which they found themselves. What is truly heart-breaking is that these characters don't even seem to recognize how difficult a life they have. About half-way in, I had to put it down for a few weeks because it was weighing heavily on me. You have to be in the right mood for this.
One of the interesting themes that runs throughout is that of secrets. The Piper family is full of them. Francis particularly has a secret that is kept from the age of four or five. How horrifying to carry that weight. Each secret was kept with the assumption that they were protecting someone, but it only served to further divide an already broken family. Some secrets the reader is privy to, but one in particular mystery is carried throughout the book. The last hundred pages or so allow the reader to finally see the entire picture. The story is so incredibly well-crafted that the ending left me completely satisfied. Not happy, because it's not that kind of book, but in awe of the story that MacDonald weaved.
Its subject is dark, but Ann-Marie MacDonald writes an incredibly moving tale. It's quite the roller coaster ride with many highs and lows, but in all honestly, many more lows. If your heart can handle reading about abuse (never really graphic), in many horrifying forms, I would highly recommend Fall on Your Knees.
Have you read Fall on Your Knees? What did you think? Particularly about the ending?