*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Fall of Innocence
Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez
Publication Date: June 12, 2018
Synopsis from Goodreads:
For the past eight years, sixteen-year-old Emilia DeJesus has done her best to move on from the traumatic attack she suffered in the woods behind her elementary school. She’s forced down the memories–the feeling of the twigs cracking beneath her, choking on her own blood, unable to scream. Most of all, she’s tried to forget about Jeremy Lance, the boy responsible, the boy who caused her such pain. Emilia believes that the crows who watched over her that day, who helped her survive, are still on her side, encouraging her to live fully. And with the love and support of her mother, brother, and her caring boyfriend, Emilia is doing just that. But when a startling discovery about her attacker’s identity comes to light, and the memories of that day break through the mental box in which she’d shut them away, Emilia is forced to confront her new reality and make sense of shifting truths about her past, her family, and herself.
Reading this in public while I was waiting for an oil change on my car while trying not to cry at this absolutely devastating story is possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. The Fall of Innocence is a story of survival and deep pain following the brutal attack and sexual assault of a young girl. We’re never shown exactly what happens to Emilia DeJesus out in the woods behind the school that day, but the author hints about a brutal assault and rape. The reader does intimately live the after affects with Emilia, experiencing her pain and struggle along with her desire to just be a carefree teen like everyone else.
Sanchez paints and incredibly moving story about Emilia, now a teenager, as she struggles to live with the intense fear and stress of her memories. Her case has been reopened as new information has come to light and everything she’d experienced as a young girl rises to the surface again. Everyone fears that they won’t be able to help Emilia in any way, although those that love her desperately want to ease her agony. This story gives us a glimpse at intense trauma, PTSD, and a family trying to find their way.
This is by no means a happy ending kind of story and its themes might be a trigger for some. It’s a tragic and emotionally devastating story, but it’s so beautifully written. It’s honest and shows this story from every angle. Each family member has a voice which I think brings so many issues to light and explores how each family copes and suffers in the aftermath of the attack. Each family member has their own story to tell and we are given brief glimpses of each of them throughout. Tomas, in particular, hides his own secret that he can share with no one. I wish we’d gotten to see more of him, because his own emotional turmoil rages deep within him and he feels he cannot outwardly be the person he is on the inside, yet he pushes his own concerns aside to focus his love and energy on his sister.
This is a heavy boots kind of book so fair warning, it might not be the book for you. But if you’re looking for something that shares the vast depth of human emotion and the inner workings of a family trying to recover, then I’d give The Fall of Innocence a try.