Bender. The Criminal. The kind of hot guy that good girls like me would never give a second look, except out of the corner of our eye (I’m talking The Breakfast Club).
Bender. The Philosopher.
He was right: I guess because Bender had lived a life time before we met him, he was wise beyond his years. His home life was less than desirable, and more than I could have imagined. Much like Brian (The Geek), Claire (The Princess), and Andrew (The Jock), I couldn’t believe that those things really went on in a family. I mean, my dad was a jerk, but he never burned me with a cigarette. And we always had great Christmases.
I wonder what Bender would have thought of Facebook and Instagram?
But I digress. Bender knew that life isn’t perfect. He knew screws fall out, and that things don’t always happen the way in which we envision them.
It took me awhile to realize that no matter how hard we try, life wasn’t going to be perfect. That I couldn’t control every bit and parcel and piece of my (our) life.
And, a moment later, I realized that was okay.
It was when my Katy was born.
She was born very early on a September morning. We saw her before they whisked her away, but didn’t really realize that something was up. We didn’t want to know, weren’t ready to take it all in.
But, later on that morning, after Ted had gone home to shower and I was dozing off and on in my hospital room, a doctor from our pediatrician’s office came in, pulled up a chair, and began talking to me about genetic tests and bilirubin and Trisomy 21. About Down syndrome. About my daughter, my newborn, my second girl, being born with Down syndrome.
I thought about what this meant for us, before I even called my husband. Everything ran through my head. Everything. What was our life going to be like? What was Libby’s life going to be like? How were we going to do this?
And, I’m embarrassed to say, I wondered: How am I going to tell people? What are they going to think? How do I start this off, knowing were not going to be perfect?
But I took a deep breath, called Ted, and told him. And I cried. I called my parents, my family, everyone. And told them. I sent an e-mail to my teacher friends.
By the end of the day, after I visited with Katy, my world began to take shape, and an epiphany began to take hold. I started to think about kids I taught (at the time, I was a teacher), realizing that pretty much every kid had SOMETHING. Some were messy. Some were unorganized. Some were nonathletic or bad at math. Some were anxiety-riddled. Some were born with dyslexia. Some were born with autism.
And some were born with Down syndrome.
I left that perfect child behind, that perfect life, and realized that my imperfect life was, in its own way, perfect. It was what we’re supposed to be, this is our wonderful, screwy life.
And Katy is perfect, because she is Katy.
She taught me the lesson long before we all started showing off our the perfect parts of our lives on Facebook and Instagram. There is no perfect, not the way we imagine. But we’re all perfect in our own way, imperfections and all.
I guess she helped me realize that yes, I can get envious of a friend’s wonderful new house or great vacation, but I’m not envious because of their perfect life. Because their is no such thing. Let me say that again: There. Is. No. Such. Thing. And that’s okay.
We can all strive for perfect moments and memories. But if every moment is perfect, then nothing is special.
Okay, onto my review of Before the Fall by Noah Hawley.
They are her life, these children. Her identity. She reaches once more to readjust her son’s blanket, and as she does there is that moment of weightlessness as the plane’s wheels leave the ground. This act of impossible hope, this routine suspension of the physical laws that hold men down, inspires and terrifies her. Flying. They are flying.
—Noah Hawley, Before the Fall
Eleven people on a private plane, each with their own story. When the plane crashes, each of those stories becomes suspect, each story becomes newsworthy.
Eleven people all board a quick flight to New York, all for different reasons, trusting that this quick flight will get them home. When the plane goes down, Scott Burroughs, the down and out painter who was invited on the flight at the last minute, is thrown clear. As he surfaces he hears the cries of another person; four year old JJ, the son of the high powered media mogul who chartered the plane. Scott swims JJ to the shore, and he’s hailed a hero.
But why did the plane go down? Each person on the plane is suspect. David Bateman, the chief of a Fox News-like network, who was just getting ready to fire his number 1 talking head (take Bill O’Reilly mixed with Rush Limbaugh). His sweet wife Maggie. Their daughter Rachel, nine, was kidnapped when she was four, and was missing for a week. Their body guard Gil Baruch. Ben Kipling, who is going to be indicted and arrested for doing business with enemy countries, and his wife Sarah. The flight attendant questioning her career. The pilot, a man who takes his career seriously. The party boy co-pilot.
Each person has a story.
As Scott comes to terms with being a hero, he must face a barrage of questions and doubters. His bond with young JJ becomes suspect. As the FBI and the NTSB looks at each and every person on the flight, Scott, the person with the least to gain, must learn to deal with the spotlight, as he and JJ learn to be survivors.
Suspenseful and character driven, Before the Fall was an interesting, page-turning read.
Hawley twists his story, switching between the post-crash mystery (Who did it? Why? How?) and the characters’ backstories. By doing this, he keeps the story interesting while developing the characters into sympathetic (or not so sympathetic) characters. Add in a sensationalist media drooling over the loss of their own as well as a talking head willing to do whatever to create a story, and you have book (and movie?) magic.
My only criticism is that it ends too bluntly. But it is effective, and would make a great movie ending.
Author Noah Hawley’s is a Hollywood screenwriter and producer of many great TV shows, including Bones and Fargo, and this book shows his ability to pull an audience in and keep them interested.
I enjoyed Before the Fall, and would recommend it as a great beach or pool read. Engrossing and compelling. I give it 4 stars.