You just boarded a flight to New York with one hundred and forty-three other passengers onboard. What you don’t know is that thirty minutes before the flight, your pilot’s family was kidnapped. For his family to live, the kidnappers demand that he crashes your plane. What follows is a fast-paced story of heroes on board the plane, champions on the ground, and even a compelling argument for the kidnappers’ side.
Falling by T.J. Newman (Goodreads. Release date: 6 July 2021) is a debut novel where the most breathtaking cover, combined with the most hold-your-breath story. It’s brilliant, unlike anything I’ve read before, and such a fast-paced, never-stops-giving-you-another-twist kinda story. Easy to read in one sitting!
One of the most unforgettable and breathtakingly-paced novels I have ever read, and likely ever will read, Falling is compelling, comprised of so many shocking twists and turns, and surprisingly nuanced in the way it considers each and every one of its characters’ heartache. This is a book you could gift anyone and they’d be on the edge of their seat from the minute they learn the premise until the very last page!
You know going in that Falling has an impossible hostage situation, but from the very start it goes in alllll kinds of directions that you simply could not envision. The author was a flight attendant for ten years and it absolutely shows in the depth of the writing, but also in the extensive imagined scenarios that civilians simply would not be able to dream up. You’ll learn some insider secrets about airplanes –some quite dark, some delightful. It feels very much like it’s both pulling back the curtain on the flight industry airline industry, and a celebration of the many miracles that the humans behind the scenes pull off. But more than anything you’ll be on the edge of your seat trying to figure out what is going to happen next and how on earth they’re going to get out of this situation. The pacing! The seamless, stellar switching of perspectives! It’s mind-blowing that this is Newman’s first novel, because she has written Falling with a breathless pacing that I haven’t seen in tenth or fifteenth novels by many bestselling authors.
I’m particularly interested in the choice to include Kurdistan’s history. I wonder why, and why like this? It’s done beautifully – the way Newman doesn’t completely subvert the terrorist act, but makes it deeply personal from all angles. It’s so specific a scenario, and yet a hundred thousand people —more likely millions— have been affected this way. Also it was so thoughtful to have both Carrie and Bill be reading up and educating themselves about the impact and making a choice to be better than “the average American”. It felt wise and kind and like I could exhale the tension and worry that there would be no compassion or clarity in the truth of the matter and the context.
Brava, T.J. Newman, for crafting something this magnificent and affecting!
If you like Falling…
The Flight Attendant (HBO Max)
If you’re keen for another behind-the-curtain look at life as a flight attendant where potential murder is involved and things get turned upside down and twisted around reallll fast (but in a more, quirky unhinged comedy way), Kaley Cuoco shines in HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, where Michiel Huisman is very Michiel Huisman, and Rosie Perez plays basically the exact character she plays in Search Party.
Inside Man (2006, director: Spike Lee)
This is a perfect fit for me in terms of the hook that comes with the one line statement of intent that you spend the whole time thinking ‘Now how the hell is this guy gonna do this thing?” When Clive Owen says ‘I’m gonna walk right out of the front door” it feels implausible, but somehow.. you’re like that /Unless…?’ meme. When the pilot in Falling says to the hostage takers “You are not gonna kill my family and I am not gonna crash this plane” it’s that same feeling. Like, okay lemme get my popcorn, let me lean a bit forward in this seat. And both of these deliver.