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Ready to Fall
Cover of Ready to Fall
Ready to Fall
A Novel

A young adult novel about a teen who finds hope and a fresh start after a terrible loss, and learns that being strong means letting go.

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his brain. It's a terrible tenant—isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality.

Finally, Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet where he becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings—until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how hard it is to let go of the past. At turns lyrical, haunting, and triumphant, Ready to Fall is a story of grief, love, rebellion and starting fresh from acclaimed author Marcella Pixley.

A young adult novel about a teen who finds hope and a fresh start after a terrible loss, and learns that being strong means letting go.

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his brain. It's a terrible tenant—isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality.

Finally, Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet where he becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings—until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how hard it is to let go of the past. At turns lyrical, haunting, and triumphant, Ready to Fall is a story of grief, love, rebellion and starting fresh from acclaimed author Marcella Pixley.

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About the Author-
  • Marcella Pixley is a middle school language arts teacher and a writer. Her poetry has been published in various literary journals, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first book, Freak, received four starred reviews and was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year. She lives in Westford, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2017
    Desperate to cling to something of his mother's after her death, 16-year-old Max believes he has invited her tumor into his brain and that it is slowly killing him.Max is increasingly withdrawn, lost, and strange. His father, desperate to help him with his grief, enrolls him in an exclusive school filled with eccentric artists. There, Max meets Fish, a bubbly girl with pink hair, and her band of misfit friends. Max also meets the curmudgeonly creative-writing teacher, who uses unorthodox methods to force Max to talk about his pain. He has a breakthrough during a staging of Hamlet, in which each cast member is forced to confront his or her own ghosts. Max's tightrope walk between sanity and insanity will resonate with anyone suffering from a loss. While he must find a way to live again, it takes the combined efforts of his wild friends, his devoted family, and a few dedicated and eccentric teachers. Lyrical prose, fresh and compelling images, and unforgettable characters create an experience that will stay with readers far past the last page. The principals are white and Jewish, but the school boasts students of many races, religions, and sexual orientations. Grief becomes something oddly beautiful--and beautifully odd. (Fiction. 14-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 18, 2017
    The first time Max Friedman’s mother gets cancer, he’s five. The second time, he’s 16 and it’s a fatal brain tumor. Needing to keep something of his mother with him, Max invites her tumor into his own brain; it soon takes over, making it impossible for him to concentrate on anything, and his grades suffer. A progressive private school seems like the answer, and Max gets involved with the theater kids, including the radiantly pink-haired Fish. Pixley (Without Tess) uses the school production of Hamlet and the theater milieu effectively—the book’s title refers to trust-fall exercises, a common theater practice. It’s an act that takes courage, and over the course of the story, Max moves toward being willing to do it. The process involves his father, grandmother, a supremely cranky writing teacher, Fish, and even her on-again off-again boyfriend. Max’s interactions with the tumor are an odd but appropriate metaphor for the sorrow, fear, guilt, and lousy coping strategies of grieving. When Max finds community with others—who are just as damaged but striving to be happy—it’s rewarding and touching. Ages 14–up. Agent: Victoria Wells Arms, Wells Arms Literary.

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    Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Ready to Fall
A Novel
Marcella Pixley
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