Hello hello, and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao, which happened to be book number 100 of the year, finishing off my reading challenge for me. It was a good book to finish on, although I could have easily listened to double the length of it; I didn’t want it to end!
Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends — Krystal, Akil, and Alexander — are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.
They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.
The biggest question posed by this book is “how far are we willing to go for perfection?”, both within ourselves, with the compromises we make with our morals, and with other people. It’s a question that haunts the book, and haunts the characters within it, with devestating impact.
Although I’m not in a position to relate to the racism and racist pressures faced by some of the characters in the book, I can absolutely understand the pressure of feeling the need to constantly assert being “good enough” for the scholarship that gets you into a good school. This part of the story, always hovering over our protagonist, brought back memories from my teen years that took me right back mentally; it was so painfully, blistering accurate. No space for mistakes, no time for failure.
Dark academia books are on the increase, and for a good reason. Close quarter settings put more focus on the characters and make it difficult to escape what is going on at all. Especially with the addition of social media, in this case a school wide site that allows for gossip, where The Proctor is gradually sharing all the things that the team want hidden.
Thanks for stopping by for this post, be sure to keep an eye out for more posts coming every day!