Title: The Speed of Falling Objects
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Genre: Young Adult, Adventure
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Date published: October 1st 2019
Page Count: 384
Danger “Danny” Danielle Warren is no stranger to falling. After losing an eye in a childhood accident, she had to relearn her perception of movement and space. Now Danny keeps her head down, studies hard, and works to fulfill everyone else’s needs. She’s certain that her mom’s bitterness and her TV star father’s absence are her fault. If only she were more―more athletic, charismatic, attractive―life would be perfect.
When her dad calls with an offer to join him to film the next episode of his popular survivalist show, Danny jumps at the chance to prove she’s not the disappointment he left behind. Being on set with the hottest teen movie idol of the moment, Gus Price, should be the cherry on top. But when their small plane crashes in the Amazon, and a terrible secret is revealed, Danny must face the truth about the parent she worships and falling for Gus, and find her own inner strength and worth to light the way home.
**Thank you NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review**
Nancy Richardson Fischer’s second YA novel, The Speed of Falling Objects, is a coming of age novel about self-discovery, forgiveness, and family. Danny has spent her whole life questioning everything about herself. Where once she was fearless of everything, a childhood accident that causes her to lose her eye makes her fearful of anything. Nicknamed Pigeon at school because of her eyes, Danny stays under the radar and avoids all confrontation from her classmates.
When her father gives her an opportunity to join him on an episode of his famous survivalist show, she immediately agrees, hoping to finally be able to bond with her dad. When their plane crashes in the Amazon, they are left to fend for themselves and find a way out before the perils of the rain forest take them over.
I had a few hesitations while reading the first few chapters of the novel. I’ve never read a book that took place in the jungle and wasn’t quite sure is the survivalist setting would be my thing. Also, the book started off uncannily similarly to Nancy’s first book, When Elephant Fly, with Danny very similar to Aza in terms of being a self-doubting protagonist who, after uncovering a secret that their parent hides from them, goes on a adventure of a lifetime to discover themselves. (phew that was a long sentence). But after reading this book, I realized that maybe I’m a sucker for this trope.
Within the first few chapters of reading, I was completely engrossed in the story. Nan does an amazing job with the world building. The plane crash was so realistic and the jungle was so descriptive. (Have Wikipedia nearby as you, it’s so so helpful). I felt myself with the crew during the trip, heart racing as they faced the formidable species of the jungles, holding my breath as they swam under the murky bogs infested with caimans and leeches. The novel was so vividly written and just kept you turning the pages.
The characters were so three dimensional each with their own distinct personality and voices. But it’s truly the character development throughout the book that makes this book so amazing.
The story is mostly about them trying to survive the rainforest, and also about the relationship between Cougar and Danny. Cougar. Oh lord. Just saying his name gets my blood boiling. What kind of father literally embarrasses and belittles her daughter? How does he “forget” his daughter’s birthday and oh my god, I don’t even know how to speak about it. I could spend this whole review ranting how much I hated him, but then…So yeah, I was fuming at parts.
The whole story was tension-filled; there were so many twists a long the way, whether it be character revealment or the sudden threat of a predator nearby. It was a relief when Danny realized how manipulative and how self-centered her father was, but at the same time it must have been heartbreaking for her. Having spent all her life and most of the trip thinking that she was “defective, inferior, an embarrassment” to her dad, she’s tried to prove Cougar wrong by overcoming her fears and putting on a brave face. But when she finally stands up to her father, you realize how much she’s grown as a result. She no longer needs that approval from her father, and that makes all the difference.
“Luxury?” I sit up and face him. “I’m a one-eyed girl nicknamed Pigeon. My father ditched me, then used me as a freaking hook for his show. My mom both loves and resents the hell out of me. The best things I’ve ever heard anyone say about Danny Warren are that I have a nice smile and an easygoing personality. I’m one step up from their family pet. But I made myself a lot of those things. I let them happen. It was easier to be what people expected, beat them to the punch line. A luxury ? To be what I really want to be is a battle I’m just beginning to fight.”
Just like in When Elephants Fly, Nancy’s attention to detail is spot-on. You can’t help but applaud her in the research she does to make the perils of the rain forest feel so frightening or the medical decisions that Danny makes so real.
What I loved about the story was the message about forgiveness and understanding in a family. It was evident that Danny’s mom, Sam, wasn’t perfect, and in some ways still bitter and angry over Cougar. But Danny realized how much her mother cared for her, and the sacrifices made for her. Despite all that Cougar did, Danny learned to forgive him. Cougar needed to be Cougar more than he ever wanted to be a father or a husband, but Danny still learned to love him for who he was. Her family was dysfunctional. But it was her family.
My mom is a woman who made tough choices, sometimes failed, always tried, never left. Just like Cougar couldn’t get beyond being that insecure foster kid, my mom may never let go of her anger or resentments. Regardless, I forgive her. Letting go and redefining who you are isn’t just a choice. It’s a battle. Not everyone sets her pigeon free.
Although The Speed of Falling Objects is an action-filled novel that takes place in the jungles, it really speaks to readers. Danny is truly a relateable character, whose insecurities and self-doubt are things that we are all guilty of. But as Danny grows throughout the novel, I felt myself growing alongside her.
- “Never underestimate the strength of a tiny ant, right, Cougar? They’re mighty in their own way.” – Jupiter
- “The thing is, people can’t be possessed.” – Danny
Also, did I mention all the music lyrics? Nancy crafted some amazing lyrics to fit with the story 🙂