YA | Review Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley

Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley is another one of those novels that surprised me.  I didn’t expect to feel such a connection to Max …

Ready to Fall Marcella Pixley

Paperback: 200 pages

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books (1 Mar. 2018)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1782691510

ISBN-13: 978-1782691518

A YA novel about a teen who finds hope and a fresh start after a terrible loss, and learns that being strong means letting go.

Following the death of his mother, Max Friedman comes to believe that he is sharing his brain with a tumour; one that possesses a dark sense of humour and a relentless ability to tease. As Max becomes focused on controlling the malignant tenant, he starts to lose touch with his friends and family, and with reality itself -– so Max’s father sends him off to the artsy Baldwin School to regain his footing.

Soon, Max has joined a group of theatre misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet. He befriends Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, a boy who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But the tumour is always lurking in the wings – until one night it knocks him down, and Max is forced to face the truth.

Ready to Fall is a funny, touching story of grief, love – and the courage it takes to start afresh.

Available to purchase in digital, paperback and hardcover formats.


When you’re in those early stages of grief, you’re not thinking rationally are you … things that make sense to you seem totally bizarre to others.  Max thinks that as he is saying his goodbye to his mum while she lies in her open casket that her tumour has transferred to him.  It is the only thing he has left of her.  Unable to grieve, there’s a change in his behaviours and as he starts to fail at school, family friend Lydie suggests creative Baldwin school.  Max loves to sketch and they are hoping this new start will help him. Already living with his loss and of course going through hormonal/developmental changes, he now has to work out the dynamics and where he fits in at his new school.

I had so many feels for Max as he navigates life without his mum.  And obviously with his dad grieving too, he’s not emotionally available for Max.  It’s not only Max’s grief which I felt but oh his memories of how his mum showed her love for him and made him feel safe.  For most, letting go of childhood is a gradual process but when you have no choice …

As with all friendship groups, the group that Max is on the periphery of already have their roles.  Monk in the Alpha role draws Max in, thinking he is similar to him.  When the conflict comes, it’s actually a positive thing (although it doesn’t feel like it at the time!). Rehearsals for Hamlet are also key scenes – so much emotion!

Ready to Fall is such a poignant story with the focus on loss and grief which takes the reader (alongside Max) on a journey of unacknowledged feelings to acceptance and hope.  Marcella Pixley has captured the tangle of emotions perfectly.  I read the last couple of chapters through tears.  Beautiful.

Highly recommended if you enjoy a YA story ALSO if you or someone you know is going through their own grieving cycle of losing a mum.  Ready to Fall will definitely help you and give you hope.

Marcella Pixley teaches eighth grade Language Arts at the Carlisle Public Schools. Her poetry has been published in literary journals such as Prairie SchoonerFeminist StudiesSow’s Ear Poetry Review and Poet Lore, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ms. Pixley has written three acclaimed young adult novels: FreakWithout Tess, and most recently, Ready To Fall. Freak received four starred reviews and was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and Without Tess was a School Library Journal selection.

Ms. Pixley lives in an antique farmhouse in Westford, Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. She is a graduate of Vassar College, University of Tennessee and Bread Loaf School of English.

Connect with Marcella Pixley


Twitter @MarcellaPixley


Married with two sons in their early 20’s, I love my day job as an Inclusion Lead. I am passionate about early help, expressed not only in my setting but also as a member of Bournemouth’s Early Help Operational Board. It’s an honour to be working alongside others to instigate change and growth.

I’m also passionate about my love of reading, being out in nature and creating with crochet.

I’ve been blogging for seven years at Jera’s Jamboree.



  1. June 9, 2018 / 11:38 am

    This sounds like it would be a very emotional read. But these are the stories that tend to help people in similar situations. I feel for Max even from just reading your review.
    Amanda. #ToTT

  2. June 9, 2018 / 12:30 pm

    Sounds like a tear-jerker! I’m reading another YA now, unusual for me, which has elements of grief, Dumplin, have you read it? I’m really, really enjoying it!

    • June 9, 2018 / 2:51 pm

      I saw Dumplin in your sidebar (I haven’t read it). Maybe a YA convert? 😀

  3. June 9, 2018 / 3:36 pm

    Ooh sounds like you’d need plenty of tissues handy while reading this one.
    I just read a book about two teens orphaned in a car accident and didn’t cry at all which surprised me. I don’t think I’m ready to take a chance on another lol.

    • June 9, 2018 / 4:10 pm

      Definitely have to be in the right mood for an emotional grab …

  4. June 10, 2018 / 7:07 am

    Sounds like an emotional but heart-warming read Shaz, I can feel how much you enjoyed it!

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