I have been reading the Falling from Grace series by S.L. Naeole for the past two days (Book 1: Falling from Grace; Book 2: Bird Song). It has been incredibly difficult to put it down for any reason. Grace is the epitome of someone who is different due to her inherently good personality traits. She is loyal, compassionate, and forgiving. All of these traits aren’t common in a high school senior. Although, she does have her flawed moments, which makes her character more believable. She hates being viewed as different and yet everything about her personality sets her apart from her peers. She is ostracized at her school for being different since she survived the car crash her mom died in. Grace loses her best friend Graham for a while in the book and this leads to a dark vulnerable place in her life when Robert steps in. She also happens to find a new friend in Stacey who is a strong and opinionated character. The remainder of the series focuses on her relationships with Robert, his sister Lark, Graham and Stacey.
This series had me captivated with the easy to relate to characters. The characters are flawed and commit mistakes that they have to learn from. This makes the book seem real to the reader. In addition, there are several surprise moments. One of my favorites was when Grace’s willingness to forgive a major transgression from Graham and Stacey takes it upon herself to educate him in the error of his way in a very physical manner. Moments like these will lighten up a sometimes very serious plotline while also making the characters relatable for readers.
The main criticism that I have of this series is the same one I have with several YA paranormal romance stories. It stems from my personal independence. I think that at times Grace acts like all happiness in her world depends on the males in her life. This drives me somewhat crazy being a very independent person and a teacher/mother that wants to see her daughter/students grow up to be strong independent females. Grace and Robert’s relationship escalates very quickly even though she isn’t quite as instantaneously ready to jump into a very serious relationship. I do applaud the hesitation that the author writes into Grace’s character. I do like the way that she does stand up for herself at times and that she doesn’t automatically give in on issues with the males in the story. However, she forgives almost instantly and they still remain at the center of her world. I also did not enjoy her constant insecurity about her looks. In the first book she constantly compares herself to other girls and the topic of how average she is comes up with several different characters. I realize that many teens can relate to this insecurity but I never really saw her perception of herself evolve and really would like her to see her inner beauty. She accepts who she is but I didn’t feel like she ever took pride in herself and perceived herself as beautiful. I would like to see that in the upcoming books.
That being said, I loved this series. I have yet to find an angel series that I liked and yet I found myself unable to tear away from this story. There are moments when you will laugh, cry, smile and experience the entire spectrum of emotion. I find it rare that a writer can make me feel so many things for characters in the span of two books. I feel like I know the characters personally and can begin to think of what they would do if they truly existed. The third book in the series Black Halo will be released on August 31. You can find the series on amazon.com.