All Fall Down

Jen­nifer Weiner

  • Review
By – December 18, 2014

Jen­nifer Weiner’s new nov­el, All Fall Down, devi­ates from her usu­al fun­ny, light­heart­ed fare. Here the sto­ry­line cen­ters on the issue of addic­tion. Wein­er takes read­ers down the path of some­one addict­ed to painkillers and shows us the depress­ing, fright­en­ing way the pills grab some­one, just like a spi­der uses its web.

The sto­ry begins with Alli­son Weiss wait­ing in the pediatrician’s office, open­ing a maga­zine, and tak­ing a quiz about addic­tion to Per­co­cet and Vicodin. She begins to won­der if she is becom­ing too depen­dent on these pills, orig­i­nal­ly pre­scribed for her back pain. Alli­son moves on from Per­co­cet and Vicodin to a stronger ver­sion, Oxy­codone. The pre­scrip­tion painkillers even­tu­al­ly con­sume Allison’s mind, ener­gy, and atten­tion as she begins to use the pills to help man­age her unhap­py life: the unwant­ed move to a sub­ur­ban neigh­bor­hood; an emo­tion­al­ly dis­tant hus­band; a com­plete­ly undis­ci­plined child; a father suf­fer­ing from Alzheimer’s, and a moth­er who is total­ly disengaged.

Per­haps inevitably, the char­ac­ters are not very like­able. Alli­son is whiny and com­plains about every­one and every­thing. Her daugh­ter, Ellie, is an overindulged, spoiled brat. Her hus­band, David, is a self­ish, detached char­acter. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Wein­er nev­er explores or explains David’s back­sto­ry — why he wasn’t sup­port­ive of Allison’s recov­ery, why he was absent from the mar­riage and nev­er accept­ed any respon­si­bil­i­ty for their mar­riage prob­lems. Still, All Fall Down is a pow­er­ful nov­el about a woman’s slide into addic­tion and her strug­gle to over­come it. More than just a sto­ry about an addict, it delves deeply into why she became one.

Elise Coop­er lives in Los Ange­les and has writ­ten numer­ous nation­al secu­ri­ty arti­cles sup­port­ing Israel. She writes book reviews and Q and A’s for many dif­fer­ent out­lets includ­ing the Mil­i­tary Press. She has had the plea­sure to inter­view best­selling authors from many dif­fer­ent genres.

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