Review: How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

How We Fall Apart
Katie Zhao
Bloomsbury
Published August 3, 2021

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About How We Fall Apart

Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends–Krystal, Akil, and Alexander–are the prime suspects, thanks to “The Proctor,” someone anonymously incriminating them via the school’s social media app.

They all used to be Jamie’s closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy’s full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too.

How We Fall Apart on Goodreads

My Review

One of the things I feel like this book captured really well or conveyed really well is the high-pressure experience of being a student at an elite school. Nancy not only feels the pressure of her school program and being a scholarship student surrounded by rich kids from privileged families, but also feels intense pressure from her parents to do well and make all their sacrifices worth it.

At first I found it difficult to connect with Nancy because she’s bitter and aloof. As I started to see more and more of her life, I felt like it made a lot of sense that she acted the way she did. Her relationship with Jamie was complicated and pretty toxic, but it made sense that they stayed kind of bound up in each other. So that was another thing that I ultimately felt was strong about the story.

Some of the scene changes felt abrupt to me. It sometimes felt like the writing was a little rushed, so I read the beginnings of scenes sometimes more than once trying to figure out if I’d missed something. Or maybe there was a flashback or timeline change that happened quickly. Sometimes I struggled to follow those, but maybe that was just me.

I think all in all there are some really strong things about the story– and I really enjoyed the experience of reading a suspense story with an Asian cast. Hopefully HOW WE FALL APART does really well and paves the way for other books like this!

I think readers who enjoy suspense stories will like this one, especially early high school readers, like freshman and sophomores.

How We Fall Apart on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

Representation
Major characters are Asian. Two female characters are in a romantic relationship.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used very infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to sex. Kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
Some descriptions of bullying. References to a girl found murdered. Description of a confrontation that leads to a head injury. A fire causes injuries.

Drug Content
A girl offers her friends a drink of juice and puts vodka in it without telling them. They realize what she’s done and drink the juice anyway.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog. I received a free copy of HOW WE FALL APART in exchange for my honest review.

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About Kasey Giard

I'm a mama, reader, and writer. Passionate about peppermint (it's not just for Christmas, okay?!), fly fishing, and movie night.

2 Responses to Review: How We Fall Apart by Katie Zhao

  1. You’ve got me curious about this book. I’m into suspense and mysteries these days so may check it out. Natalie @ Literary Rambles