The Opposite of Falling Apart
By: Micah Good
Publication: February 25th 2020 by Wattpad Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley (Thank you!!)
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Goodreads description--After losing his leg in a terrible car accident, Jonas Avery can’t wait to start over and go to college. Brennan Davis would like nothing more than to stay home and go to school, so she can keep her anxiety in check. When the two accidentally meet the summer before they move away, they’ll push each other to come to terms with what’s holding them back, even as they’re pulled closer to taking the biggest leap of all—falling in love. The Opposite of Falling Apart has more than 2.1 million reads on Wattpad.
I will be the first to admit that I do not understand anxiety. I would venture to say that a lot of people who struggle with anxiety also do not understand it because anxiety is often not logical. I have briefly struggled with feelings of anxiety while I was on a medication that wasn't right for me. But what I experienced was nothing like what Brennan experienced. I hesitate to even discuss this part in too much detail because the author briefly touches on her own anxiety issues within the acknowledgments. And I wouldn't want anything I say about Brennan to feel like a reflection upon her and her own struggles--much less anyone else who might read this review that also struggles with anxiety. It was helpful to me to be in Brennan's head and see how much of an internal battle she has going on trying to fight against her instincts, her inner dialogue, and her anxiety itself. In a lot of ways, the things that Brennan thinks to herself or worries about felt to me like things EVERYONE thinks about or wonders about. I certainly don't enjoy new situations where I don't know what to expect. Who might be there? How they might respond to me. What's expected of me. If it's a new location, where I will park. Or being able to find the place I actually need to be. I think all of that is normal. But Brennan is crippled by these thoughts and fears. She even admits that more than anything she cares entirely too much about what other people think of her. And I think that's something I've taken for granted in my own life and confidence. I think I learned early on in life that I might be a friend to many but simply not close to a ton of people because I realized that I think differently and value different things in myself and in others than a lot of the people I was growing up with did. I didn't always feel confident that others liked me, but I liked myself. And to me, that was more important. Brennan doesn't like herself (her anxiety more specifically) and that causes her to be suspicious that anyone else could or would possibly like her as well. She's constantly seeking validation, approval, and affection from others while holding herself as much at bay from them as she can. I think in other circumstances I would have flat out disliked her character because strong, confident female leads are something that I value highly in both books and in real life. I have particularly struggled with "needy" people in real life. But I feel like The Opposite of Falling Apart gave me a little bit of a new perspective on what "needy" people might be dealing within their own minds. Perhaps I will be a little more compassionate in the future. And there's not much more you can hope for from a book than for it to make you want to be a better person after reading it.
I can't say I really struggled with connecting to Jonas, but I also didn't hold him up to the same level of adoration that I often find myself feeling towards leading male characters. I think that's because Jonas is both good and flawed. Most of his flaws relate to himself and how he feels about himself since his accident and losing half of his left leg. He has a lot of anger and bitterness and sometimes that causes him to lash out at those who love him and try to help him. But honestly, I do the same. I lash out at those I love when I'm worn down, angry, or bitter too. Even though I don't mean to. Yet, I loved how he was with Brennan. He truly saw her. Beyond her anxiety. And he was the only one who seemed to really walk through it with her rather than just telling her she shouldn't be anxious. I am quite certain I'd be the one who was like "well just get over it." Or "just tell yourself XYZ instead". Like my sympathy with Brennan, I learned that amputees can have pain beyond the phantom limb pain that I think most people are familiar with. At times I would think "it's been 2 years already and you're still not walking without your crutches Jonas," but like most things, there's so much more beyond the surface level that someone who hasn't experienced a similar situation would have no way of knowing.
I will say that I would get a little frustrated with Brennan because she was all about pushing Jonas to move past his hurdles and not always respecting his own anxiety. I would have expected given her troubles that she would have been a little more understanding of his own. She pushed him beyond his comfort level more than once, and even though this is ultimately a good thing to help him grow, she shut down or retreated physically and emotionally if he ever attempted to do the same. I also got frustrated with Brennan because it seemed like so many times she could have saved herself much worry and pain by just communicating with those who love her--her parents, Jonas, and even Ambreen. And lastly, I wish that we'd been able to see a little bit more concrete steps that Brennan took to conquer her anxiety. Did she finally start taking her medication regularly? And if not that medication then another? Did she go to therapy or find a doctor that she could finally open up to about to extent of the feelings and thoughts she was dealing with?
-"What scares you, Brennan?" Being out of control. Being known. Not being enough. Being known, and having people find out she wasn't enough, wasn't what they thought she was. Letting herself be known. and still ending up alone, with no friends, no one to love her. No one.
This quote reminds me Tauren Wells has a song called Known. The song was inspired by Timothy Kelly's statement: "To be loved and not known is comforting but superficial; to be known but not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and fully loved is a lot like being loved by God."(Reference)
-Every best friend I made always had a better best friend, or always left me in the end.
I've felt like this too except for my husband who is now my best friend.
The Opposite of Falling Apart was a good book that has caused me to think more than anything. I enjoyed the reading process but it wasn't a peppy or typical cloud-nine-new-love type of book. Even though I enjoyed the reading process, it was heavier than you would expect from a book about falling in love. Of course, heavy doesn't equal bad. And it wasn't bad. It was good. I'd definitely recommend it. Yet at the same time, this might be the type of book that is good for a specific mood or a specific reader. I'm not sure. Regardless, I'm giving The Opposite of Falling Apart 4 Stars. Have you read The Opposite of Falling Apart? What did you think? Let me know!