News & Politics

Breaking Her Fall

A story of real people that grows more unrealistic by the minute.

 This novel by a George Mason University creative-writing professor is a story of real people that grows more unrealistic by the minute.

 Imagine it’s Friday night, you’re living comfortably in your own little world, and your teenage daughter’s out with friends. At 10 PM you get a heart-stopping phone call from a stranger. Welcome to the world of Tucker Jones.

 A divorced father in Northwest DC, Tucker learns that his 14-year-old, Kat, didn’t just go to the movies that night. She and a group of friends wound up at a boy’s house, where she was seen stumbling around naked and playing sexual games.

 From there, Tucker’s life goes into a made-for-TV-movie nosedive.

 One of the boys loses his eye when Tucker confronts him with a shovel. Soon ambulances are blaring, police have Tucker in handcuffs, parents are calling lawyers, and ex-wives are whisking their kids away. By Monday, everyone knows about the violent dad who beat up a teenager.

 As if this poor man’s life weren’t screwed up enough, Tucker is also fighting a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, trying to retain custody of his kids, struggling to keep his landscape business alive, all while sparking an affair with the mother of his daughter’s best friend.

 These distracting subplots mean you’ll have to slog through a lot of needless rambling and peek into corners of Tucker’s life you may not want to know about—ex-lovers, aborted fetuses, the twisted habits of his ex-wife and her husband.

 Tucker is endearing at first, but as his life unravels, Goodwin only made me pity him—a lovable guy trapped in a TV show I wanted to turn off.

Stephen Goodwin