Where We Fell by Amber L Johnson
Oliver Bishop is having a seriously bad day. With one diagnosis, his life suddenly has an expiration date. Confused by the numbness he feels upon hearing the news, he decides that he needs some time to come to terms with it. One decision to visit his favorite diner causes him to unwittingly put himself directly in the sights of a girl that just may give him a reason to fight – and to live.
Because there’s a difference between living and just being alive.
Authors who decide to self-publish have got to be the bravest people I know. Amber has been writing amazing stories for years, and made the very smart decision to publish her work. I am so very proud of her and was thrilled when she asked me to read her first published book.
Oliver Bishop. At a very young age, seriously he is still in high school, he is told by his physician that he has lymphoma. A cancer that is treatable, but scary nothing the less. After leaving the doctor’s office, he goes to a place where he can just think. And thank God that he did, because Hannah Hartwell is exactly the person he needs in his life.
While she is only a year or two older than Oliver, she seems wiser than that, but maybe it’s because she is no stranger to illness. They form an instant friendship that develops into something more. I love Hannah’s perspective on Oliver health and well-being. She won’t let Oliver feel sorry for himself and pushes him to think past his illness.
“Good morning, Stella. What’s the skinny on The Skinny?”
“I’m sitting right here,” I call as loud as I can from my new home on the couch.
Hannah regards me with a roll of the eyes. “I was talking to your mother. She won’t lie and say you’re doing fine when you’re not. Unlike some people I know . . .”
My mom holds a plate of pancakes out to her while giving me a playful glare.
“Would you prefer I call you Mrs. Bishop? I never asked.”
“Whatever you’d like.” My mom chuckles because she loves Hannah. What the girl calls her is such a moot point, it’s comical.
“Stella is a beautiful name. I’d demand that everyone say my name if I was named Stella.” She grabs the plate and balances it on one hand while she holds a cup that she’s brought with her above her head. It’s filled with green liquid and I can’t stop staring at her as she drinks it through a straw. Noticing the look of abject horror on my face, she waves it in my direction.
“Want a sip?”
Hannah Hartwell is the queen of dirty looks and I am afforded one of her best. “It’s delicious.”
“You can’t even taste the spinach. And it’s . . .”
I cut her off. “Healthy. I know.”
It’s amazing how fast she makes herself at home. Her plate is balanced on her knees and she’s already searching Netflix for something to watch.
“I swear to God, if you turn on another vegetarian documentary, I will throw myself out the window.”
“You’d have to get off of the couch first.”
See, it’s that banter that Amber does so well, and she seems to have such great insight into a young man’s head. I didn’t realize how much I missed her writing until I got to read it again.
Oliver is no stranger to a guy’s idiocy, even if we feel like we should give him some slack for being sick. He is still the typical guy, so when he surprised Hannah by showing up at her Halloween party, he jumps to the wrong conclusion about what he sees.
Hannah calls him out on his stupidity and we get to see Oliver make amends by just being himself.
She looks so small. And broken.
It dawns on me just how hurt she is and it makes my stomach begin to tighten.
“I’m sorry,” I blurt out much faster than I intended. It makes me flinch at how loud my voice sounds in the space between us.
She shrugs and looks away, rolling the handle of her hair brush between her palms. “It’s okay.”
“It’s not okay. I had no reason to think that you’d do what I said you did. And you were right. I never defined our relationship because I was afraid of hurting you more if I didn’t make it. But I did and then I ended up hurting you anyway. And maybe worse. Because there was a chance for us and I ruined it. Hannah,” I call to her to get her to look at me. When she does, I cross the space between us and reach out to pull her to my chest, pressing her damp head under my chin. “I’m sorry I waited until it was too late to tell you. I’m sorry I never said it.”
“Never said what?” she asks and it’s muffled against my shirt. She’s clinging to my back so tightly I can feel her hands when they begin to shake.
I take a deep breath, inhaling the scent of her shampoo and tightening my arms around her to brace myself before I confess. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you that I loved you before I messed everything up.”
Young love. While these characters are young, the story is still relatable because of the issues that are addressed, and sometimes you just need to be reminded that life is short. That taking your health or love or whatever it is that is making you doubt your future, for granted is something that we need to reflect on. Especially at the beginning on the new year.
I gave this amazing book 5 stars and put it on my favorites and top-shelf-fantastic-reads shelf on Goodreads.
It looks like 2014 is going to be a great year for Amber and her fans. She will be publishing quite of few books, that I can’t wait to get my hands on!! *happy dance*
Amber is a full time mom, full time wife, is employed full time, and writes when she can. She believes in Happily Ever Afters that occur every day – despite the obstacles that real life serves up on a regular basis. Or perhaps they’re sweeter simply because of them.
She always has 2 rubber bands on her wrist, a song in her head, and too much creamer in her coffee cup that reads ‘Cocoa’ – because she’s a rebel. If she’s not at her desk, with her boys, or behind the computer, she’s supporting live music with her arms raised above her head and eyes closed, waiting for the drop.