Rating: 3 / 5
Christina McDonald’s The Night Olivia Fell is the chilling story of one mother’s fight to learn the truth about her daughter’s tragic fall from a tall bridge that leaves her brain dead.
Olivia was the perfect daughter. She got perfect grades, was the star of the school’s swim team, and had a great boyfriend. When she goes on a school field trip and runs in to a girl that looks exactly like her, she starts to wonder who her father is, and whether she may have a sister and family she doesn’t know about. This curiosity spirals into a long line of deceit and lies to the people she loves in the name of the truth.
When Olivia fell from the ZigZag Bridge, her mother, Abi’s, life was over. Olivia was all that Abi had, and she’d spent her daughter’s entire life trying to protect her, from normal life and from something potentially more sinister. Now that Olivia is gone, Abi won’t rest until she knows what led to her daughter’s fall.
Please take caution while reading The Night Olivia Fell if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Death / dying
- Pregnancy / childbirth
- Mental illness
The Night Olivia Fell has a lot of great things going on like mysterious pasts, young love, and menacing texts. Abi and Olivia’s stories are very interesting; I never got bored. However, the thrillers were few and far between. The overarching story, that someone may have attacked Olivia and that we don’t know who that person is or what their motive is, is quality. But the answers to these questions are predictable and, frankly, not thrilling.
There are some shock factors sprinkled throughout the story that enhance the whodunit factor and that are quite interesting and enjoyable to read about. Unfortunately, they are not directly related to the main plot line, and they don’t exactly coalesce to form a gasp-worthy ending.
The story switches between Olivia’s point of view before the fall and Abi’s point of view after the fall, and I think this format served the story very well. We learn bits and pieces of the mystery from both viewpoints and there’s no getting bogged down by one story line. However, the writing of Olivia’s viewpoint was awkward at times. A Young Adult writing style was used in some of Olivia’s chapters, which admittedly makes sense because Olivia is seventeen, but which ultimately did nothing to enhance the character development or enjoyment of the story, in my opinion.
All in all, I enjoyed The Night Olivia Fell. Could it have been more shocking and thrilling? Absolutely. There is never a gasp-worthy moment, but there were redeeming plot lines that were compelling. I also thoroughly enjoyed the themes of motherhood and mother/daughter relationships that McDonald explored throughout the story. I say read it, but don’t maintain high hopes of a huge twist.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my thoughts on The Night Olivia Fell. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya.