“Freefall” by Jessica Barry is an action-filled thriller that is about a daughter who has left home, lost her job, lost her compass, and in the process of becoming a hero is also in huge danger. While Ally is literally running for her life, her mother, halfway across the country, is mourning her daughter’s supposed death and also investigating who her estranged daughter had somehow become.
Between Ally and Maggie’s alternating first-person narratives, the reader learns the story of the past and what happened to estrange the mother and daughter, and the present. The present is that Ally is supposedly dead in a plane crash that killed her and her fiancé, but the reader knows Ally is really on the run after surviving the plane crash. Through Ally’s narrative, the reader learns about Ally’s inner strength and her determination to survive.
At the same time, Maggie, Ally’s mom, is refusing to believe her daughter is dead. No body was found, so she begins to try to trace her daughter’s life since they stopped speaking two years before when Charlie, Maggie’s husband and Ally’s father, died.
An interesting part of the story is that Ally’s fiancé, Ben, is the CEO of a drug company that has made a fortune with an antidepressant specifically designed for postpartum mothers. (Spoiler alert!) This drug had terrible side effects which Ben and the executives hid by shortening the study and bribing officials at the FDA. In the news right now is “FDA approves first drug for postpartum depression” about a real drug for new mothers. Truth can be stranger than fiction.
The story is written to slowly, very slowly, unravel not just the story of the two years, but also the story of the relationship between the two women, why it was destroyed suddenly, and why none of that ultimately matters. Maggie is a determined mother — she will find out what really happened to her daughter no matter what. And Ally is her mother’s daughter — she will make it back to her mother’s house at all costs.
The story and it’s gradual release of information, the details released bit by bit, perfectly doled out by the clever writing, keep the pages turning. It’s a nail-biting, heart-wrenching, lovely story from start to finish.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Harper, the publisher, for review purposes.