Catch Me When You Fall by Eileen Merriman
Catch Me When You Fall opens when Alex meets Jamie at the lab where they’re both waiting to have blood tests. It becomes the worst day of Alex’s life when she discovers her leukaemia is back but also the best because Jamie “of the Fox Glacier eyes and snowy hair” isn’t an ordinary teen and wants to know about the things which matter to Alex. She likes Jamie, she likes him a lot, she likes kissing him.
Both have big dreams. Alex wants to be a photographer and Jamie wants to be an actor but they face huge obstacles. The only possible cure available to Alex is a risky bone marrow transplant while Alex and the reader gradually find out that Jamie’s erratic behaviour is due to bipolar disorder. He says he’s fine, he just has to take his lithium medication. Every day. That’s how it works.
This is a powerful and universal story about falling in love for the first time, with no guarantees. The writer is a medical professional and that shows in her matter-of-fact and authentic descriptions of hospitals, medical procedures and the conditions her protagonists face. It’s for fans of good writing irrespective of the reader’s age.
Eileen Merriman’s first novel, Pieces of You, was published in 2017 and her writing has appeared in many international and local anthologies. She has won several writing awards including the 2015 Graeme Lay Short Story Competition and a Storylines Notable Book Award for Pieces of You.
Reviewer: Margaret Samuels
Penguin NZ, RRP $19.99