Breaking Her Fall

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

When divorced father Tucker Jones receives a late night phone call informing him that his fourteen-year-old daughter Kat was just seen performing oral sex on several boys at a party, he senses that his life will change forever from that moment on, although he has no inkling of the magnitude of the upheavals to come. Hesitant to believe the allegation, Tucker rushes to the party, where he indeed finds a very drunk Kat with several teenage boys. He becomes involved in an angry altercation with Jed Vandenberg, an older teen that results in an accident causing the loss of the boy’s eye. Vandenberg’s wealthy, powerful father refuses to believe the incident was accidental, and has Tucker arrested, filing a lawsuit against him, which jeopardizes his family, his business, and his freedom.

Author Stephen Goodwin weaves several subplots into this main narrative, involving Tucker’s affair with Lily, the married mother of Kat’s best friend; the progress of the court case; Tucker’s garage band; his relationship with his ex-wife, and a fishing expedition with his son, among others. Despite this over- abundance of characters and action, the author manages to powerfully illustrate how easily a well ordered, ostensibly perfect life can veer off track with just a few bad decisions by an otherwise “good” teenager, and how quickly a smug parent’s illusions can be crushed. Goodwin also excels at portraying Tucker and Kat’s alienation from one another after the incident, and their eventually successful attempts to re- establish their relationship on a new, more realistic footing. Breaking Her Fall is an eye opening read for all parents of teenagers or soon-to-be teenagers, as well as an engrossing page- turner.