Summer Reading Guide: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

All Fall Down is a work of fiction about a young mother named Allison Weiss who struggles to deal with the ordinary, but overwhelming pressures in her life that tragically lead to her using pills as a coping mechanism. Allison, like most women, feels like she always needs to handle everything on her own, but unlike others she has no one else to rely on to help manage life’s responsibilities. Her isolation combined with circumstances leads her yearning for the numbness and calm she attains from Vicodin or Oxycotin, her two drugs of choice. What makes All Fall Down hit close to home is that Allison’s sources of stress are very relatable for most readers.

Weiner demonstrates to the reader that disaster and a loss of control can occur even when you have what seems to be the most perfect life on the outside. Allison is a successful digital blogger married to a man she loves with a precious daughter: everything the average woman wants. But the reader discovers she is a heartbroken, over exhausted mother, daughter, wife and career woman. Her sources of stress include raising her hypersensitive four year old daughter; her troubled marriage; her elderly father's Alzheimers; and the overnight digital phenomenon that is her blog Ladies Room which overwhelms her for two reasons. (The workload involved and the fact that it makes her the primary income producer causing tension between her and David, her husband, a failed hard news journalist).

As Weiner’s 11th novel, All Fall Down confronts familiar women’s issues, but combines them with complicated dramatic struggles including alcoholism, rehab, marital discord and family patterns of addiction reminding readers of her strong literary skill and ability to place crises in familiar settings to make them more approachable to the ordinarly individual who lacks that first hand experience.

The novel, although fiction, accurately depicts the mindset of an addict and reminds the reader that no matter how big or small our problems: we are all cut from the same chord.

Weiner invites us into the psyche of an addict, showing us that it’s simply that of the universal human being cracked under the pressure of life and lost on a path of self-destruction, We see the battle of denial, anger, blame and acceptance that an addict endures and the strength it takes for all of us (addicts or not) to admit we need help. The novel also dispels the illusion of a perfect life and brings the reader onto an equal playing field as the protagonist, Allison, We all have problems, some seem more dramatic, while others seem minor. Some of us endure and rise above these problems, while others fall. Yet the important lesson Weiner shares is to recognize that getting up off the ground and standing tall is a long journey that takes hard work and time. We can all overcome our mistakes and emerge stronger if we stop following a script of how we think that crisis resolution will unfold. So stop comparing yourself to others and move on.

Want a chance to win a copy of All Fall Down from Simon and Schuster? Simply share a personal coping mechanism for stress that embraces wellness and balance of the self and why it helps you. The best answer wins! Plus, be sure to check back regularly for the final installment in 29secrets’s Summer Reading Guide! 

Tags: books, self help, style, summer reading

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  1. Avatar
    • Lindsey
    • September 17, 2014
    This book really moved me because I myself have been in a similar situation as the main character, Allison is. Jennifer Wiener shows just how beautiful denial can be. She shows that that addiction can happen to anyone but with the help and support of family, falling off the rails doesn’t have to be an option. Loved it.
  2. Avatar
    • Catherine K
    • September 17, 2014
    It may not be the healthiest way of coping – but I isolate myself to fully feel the chaos, to allow myself to move past it. No suppressing emotions for me; I let them run their course. In a compartment, of course. Life does have to go on.
  3. Avatar
    • Cathy C
    • September 13, 2014
    For me it is some alone time to read or just sit quiet and recharge with no interuptions or demands on me.
  4. Avatar
    • Alison Braidwood
    • September 12, 2014
    I sing. I belong to a barbershop chorus and am part of a quartet. I’ve gone into rehearsal with a splitting headache and seriously stress on numerous occasions. But I always emerge several hours later lighter of heart and spirit. Join a choir, or just belt out some tunes at home. You’ll feel better, and better able to cope with life’s stresses.
  5. Avatar
    • Jennifer L.
    • September 11, 2014
    I find it really helps me to stop in the middle of a stressful time and make lists of positive aspects of my life…positive qualities in people now and blessing in my life. It puts things in perspective for me.

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