Author: Ally Carter
Series: Embassy Row, #1
Grace Blakely has spent the last three years of her life trying to come to terms with her mother’s death. But despite what everyone tells her, she’s still convinced that the fire that claimed her mother’s life wasn’t an accident. Returning to Embassy Row in Adria, a hodgepodge of foreign consulates, where Grace spent most of her summers growing up, isn’t easy. Rumors follow her everywhere and even familiar faces look at her differently. But when the man who has haunted her memories for three years makes a sudden appearance, the man she is convinced killed her mother, Grace is determined to find out the truth no matter what.
“I know deep down that I should be terrified. But I’m not. So I close my eyes and breathe out as I hit the water. Cold swallows me. My lungs burn. And this is how I know I’m still alive.”
Ally Carter’s All Fall Down is about a girl struggling to accept her mother’s death and desperate to prove that the memories of that horrific day are not just a figment of her imagination. Grace has spent the last three years of her life being told that the events she recalls from the fire that killed her mother are her mind’s way of avoiding the truth. Treated as a fragile doll by her father and brother, Grace is use to people exchanging silent glances around her. It quickly becomes apparent that Grace does not have it all together, despite her determination to convince people otherwise. Her panic attacks and erratic behavior put everyone on edge and as the story unfolds, as a reader, even you begin to doubt the reliability of the protagonist.
One aspect of this novel that makes it unique is the fictional country of Adria and Embassy Row which houses various foreign embassies. Because of their proximity, one can easy walk from the U.S. to Brazil and stop by Russia on the way back. There are only a handful of foreigners introduces and none is given more consideration than Noah, a dual citizen of Brazil and Israel. This character was such a bright spot in Grace’s grim world, he quickly became my favorite. Funny and open, Noah extends the hand of friendship to Grace when everyone else would like to avoid her. Another prominent character in Grace’s life is Alexei, the son of the Russian ambassador to Adria and best friend to Grace’s absent brother. I wasn’t sure what to make of him because for the most part he would show up very conveniently one minute and disappear the next. I never felt very invested in the evolution of his and Grace’s relationship, nor in him as an individual character.
All Fall Down would have worked better for me if it focused more on the political intrigue and the sensitive way in which individuals would be forced to interact with so many governing bodies occupying the same street. There were also a couple of minor characters like Grace’s old acquaintance Megan that needed to be flushed out more. I needed to see who Megan was as an individual in order to better understand the hot and cold relationship she had with Grace throughout the novel.