The Falling Between Us
The Falling Between Us
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Annotation: At fifteen, Joshua Blackbird becomes an international singing star but, as his hometown girlfriend relates, after more than a year, the pressures and dangers of fame take a toll and "Shu" disappears.
Catalog Number: #153941
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 290 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-399-16848-6
ISBN 13: 978-0-399-16848-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017033062
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
It was just another YouTube song from an unknown Georgia teen named Joshua. No one could have predicted the dizzying heights to which that song would catapult him. Girlfriend Rox tells the story of Joshua Blackbird's sudden rise to fame and all its trappings e frenzied fans called Birdies, the massive concert audiences, the manager and others who all want part of Joshua, the forced march of living as a scripted piece of property. Who could blame Joshua for eventually wanting out? Rox, who traveled with Joshua, is hollowed out after his disappearance, the mystery of which forms the center of the narrative. In addition to telling his tale, she weaves in the story of circus celebrity Lillian Leitzel, whose high-wire acts dazzled audiences a century ago and whose story, Rox believes, parallels part of Joshua's. Readers may be less interested in this, but the frenetic whirl of Joshua's life, the social media excess, the scary fan frenzy, and the suspense and discovery surrounding what really happens to Joshua will hook them.
Horn Book
When her boyfriend, Joshua Blackbird, skyrockets to success as a musician, Roxy follows him on a national tour. Overstressed, Joshua disappears; he's presumed dead, but grieving Roxy suspects he's still alive and searches for him. Characterization takes a backseat in this melodrama--even narrator Roxy is absent of a distinct personality. An emotional but ephemeral story about the dark side of celebrity.
Kirkus Reviews
Eight months ago, 17-year-old Joshua Blackbird was making music for friends and family in a trailer in small-town Georgia. Now he's an international music star performing at one of the most famous venues in the world.Joshua's girlfriend, narrator Roxanne, has been there since long before Joshua became a "brand." She sees what no one else wants to see: Joshua is miserable. His life is a circus, one Rox wishes she could burn down: his faux romance with a pop singer; his domineering manager; the ever present paparazzi; the grueling schedule; and the demanding fans. When Joshua disappears, a devastated Rox becomes obsessed with searching the web for anything related to Joshua. His fans, called Birdies, keep his memory alive; their devotion allows Rox to hold onto him. Rox also finds comfort in stories about 1920s aerialist Lillian Leitzel. Leitzel's intense celebrity parallels that of Joshua's, while her ability to accept physical and emotional pain as parts of life gives Rox hope. Most characters appear to be white by default; Joshua's drummer and close friend, Speed, is described as having dark brown skin, and his bodyguard is named Santiago. Rox navigates dissolution, anxiety, grief, and recovery in a delicate, heightened present-tense prose that hangs on every emotion.An uplifting story of love, grief, and forgiveness. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up Roxy lives on the periphery after her boyfriend's meteoric rise to pop music superstardom. She travels on tour with Joshua Blackbird, "the girl from home" always present in the background. She gives him unconditional support while seething at the demands others place on him: the relentless schedule set by his prescription-pushing manager, a manufactured romance with a female pop star, a distant mother always asking for money, and unceasing frenetic attention from fans. The intense pressure makes Joshua distant and fragile, and Roxy's worry for his well-being increases. When Joshua goes for a midnight swim off a yacht and disappears, the protagonist spirals into profound grief even as she questions what happened to the boy she loves. Roxy is an engaging narrator who offers a perceptive glimpse into the celebrity industry alongside her own emotional landscape. She constantly compares their new reality to a circus and becomes obsessed with 1920s aerialist Lillian Leitzel, whose gravity-defying acrobatics and eventual tragic plummet are one means through which Parsons presents the pervasive theme of falling and losing control. The story moves quickly, its dark intensity crafted from raw emotion delivered in lyrical prose and staccato sentences. The novel includes a biting critique of celebrity culture and a hint of mystery, but the heart of the story is an exploration of grief, depression, and suicide. While the ending may feel too pat for some readers, it subtly delivers a positive message about choosing life over suicide. VERDICT With a shrewd and sympathetic narrator and multiple elements of interestmusic, celebrity, grief, mental healththis novel is a recommended first purchase. Elizabeth Lovsin, Deerfield Public Library, IL
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ALA Booklist (1/1/18)
Horn Book (8/1/18)
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal (1/1/18)
Word Count: 56,270
Reading Level: 5.0
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.0 / points: 8.0 / quiz: 197256 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:5.3 / points:15.0 / quiz:Q72796
Lexile: HL700L
Guided Reading Level: Y

Into the Air

The arena is almost dark, the crowd's frantic shrieks louder now, managed by light cues. I stand in the dimness at the side of the stage, holding hands with Joshua. Peering past him and the curtain, a spinning, giddy joy fills me again as I see them, hear them, feel them.
The crowd. Moving in the dark, waiting, screaming his name.
Joshua Blackbird.
"Is this real?" Joshua's voice is a low rumble. The skin under my ear tightens and pulls, almost as if wanting to yank my neck under his lips and press there.
I smile and steal a glance at him. In the dark his changeable hazel-green eyes are mostly pupil, fringed with lashes as dark as his shoulder-length hair, glossy as a raven's wing.
My voice is caught as I look at him. Is this real? I don't know anymore. They scream for this boy I've known my whole life. Now he's fifteen, nearly sixteen, and famous around the world.
I spot Ty, Joshua's little brother, in the front row. He's beaming pride, a thirteen-year-old trying to act older and cooler. His smile is a spotlight aimed at the stage.
Just eight months ago, we were all in tiny Marchant, Georgia. The only constant from then is the music. From the day I first met him, Joshua has always written songs. He used to lug around a thrift-shop guitar that was too big for him. He'd play for anyone who'd listen.
Now over twenty thousand people fill one of the most famous arenas in the world, waiting to hear him perform.
It's the opening night of his first tour.
"Band, go!" The stage manager's call launches more adrenaline into my veins.
The lights flick up and out, shooting across the arena before dimming. The massive screen above the stage starts to play footage of Joshua--behind the scenes, rehearsing, recording, all the while effortlessly smiling for the cameras.
As the band takes their places, silhouettes just visible to the crowd, a roar erupts. It's a sound I've never heard before.
Twenty thousand screaming fans, mostly girls, their desperate voices collectively piercing the air like a siren.
"Birdies" the female fans were dubbed by a blogger, and the name stuck.

Beside the stage, Joshua squeezes my hand before let­ting go. His hands come up and push back my razor-cut bright red hair. He kisses me, once.
Then he's gone. Onto the stage. Into their screams of love.
As Joshua moves onto the stage in the near dark, the pitch and timbre of the screaming increases. Joshua's hands rattle against his legs with nerves as Quinn, the lead guitarist, lifts the strap of Joshua's guitar and helps place it over his shoulder.
I still have to do a double take at the makeover trans­formation, remembering the Joshua of Marchant: the blunt haircut that Ty or I would give him, Joshua standing on the weathered wooden deck in front of their trailer as I snipped kitchen scissors in a nearly straight line along the tops of his shoulders.
Now his long hair is cut into layers and is perfectly tousled, and there's a stylist who travels with him to make sure it stays just so.
In Marchant he wore plain jeans and whatever cheap, wrinkled T-shirt he picked up off their shared bedroom floor.
Now he wears a sleek black-and-silver costume--tight pants with sneakers, a T-shirt, and a fitted jacket with accents on the back and arms that glint like dark chrome wing bones under the lights.
In Marchant he was my boyfriend. The boy next door who lived three trailers down from me.
Now he's everyone's imaginary boyfriend, an interna­tional star. It started with a handheld YouTube video that's been viewed over three million times. His debut album, which came out just three months later, went double plati­num, exploding like a rocket. "Number one with a bullet," his agent had said.
And here he is onstage, headlining his first tour.
In the near dark, you can feel the restlessness of the crowd. Expectation thrums in palpable waves. The glow of small screens, turned on and held up to thousands upon thousands of faces, aimed at the stage, each a pinpointed moment, a person, each a singular whole other world out there in the dark, twinkling together like a constellation.
"Cue sixteen. Lights ready!" the stage manager shouts into his headset.
"You did it, Shu," I say in a whisper. Onstage, Joshua turns to me as though he heard somehow and flashes me the smile I've known forever, the one that still makes my stomach clench with butterflies.
"Ready and go!" I hear behind me.
The stage lights flash on and sweep down, like the illumination of an angel descending.
I didn't think it was possible, but the cheering grows louder, crests like a wave, ricocheting around the cavern of the arena, searching for Joshua Blackbird.
The audience has one voice, and it crashes into us, a shriek of anticipation and desire.
The drummer, Speed, counts in with his drumsticks. Lights flash around him, backlighting the loose coils of his short Afro.
The drumbeat and a guitar start together.
The stage is awash with golden light, bright as an unending fall of stars. The scale of the room is unbeliev­able, the stage massive and yet swallowed by the space beyond it.
The distinctive chords of Joshua's first hit echo out, and the crowd starts bouncing--trying to dance in front of their seats, bodies and voices calling.
Joshua joins them, jumping in place easily, steadying his guitar with one hand, pumping his other arm in the air in time with the music.
Speed intensifies the beat, and then the familiar synth notes rise like bubbles, the hook in them so catchy I can't help but join in the dancing.
Even though I've heard this song a thousand times.
Dancers enter the stage, crossing the front, all silver flash and gyrations, forming a shifting shield in front of Joshua. They glide forward, keeping him nestled behind their bodies.
The immense screen over the stage both teases and reveals the object the Birdies all scream for as he moves closer to them.
Then the dancers part and Joshua steps to the edge of the stage. Hands reach for him, fingers hungry, camera phones glowing and devouring.
An enormous black-feathered bird crouches on the screen above. Then the raven lunges upward, opening ink-dark wings, a glare of light accentuating dark edges as it rises, wings sweeping wide.
And just like that, Joshua Blackbird takes flight.

Excerpted from The Falling Between Us by Ash Parsons
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

All-consuming fame and fortune prove too much for a teen popstar who suddenly goes missing--Eddie and the Cruisers for the Justin Bieber era.

"An uplifting story of love, grief, and forgiveness."--Kirkus Reviews

A Junior Library Guild Selection!

Just eight months ago, fifteen-year-old Roxanne Stewart was stuck in her tiny, middle-of-nowhere hometown with no prospects of leaving. But after her boyfriend, Joshua Blackbird, posts a performance of an original song on YouTube, he becomes an overnight sensation, catapulting to the dizzying heights of celebrity, and Rox joins him on the whirlwind ride of a massive national tour.

But it's not long before the never-blinking eye of fame begins weighing them both down--the constant hunger of managers, diehard fans who call themselves "Birdies," record execs, paparazzi, and even family, all leeching onto Joshua.

Then one day, Joshua Blackbird disappears. Was it a suicide? An accident? Rox will stop at nothing to find out the truth. The Falling Between Us is a haunting love story and a piercing look at the costs of fame.

Praise for The Falling Between Us

"With a shrewd and sympathetic narrator and multiple elements of interest--music, celebrity, grief, mental health--this novel is a recommended first purchase." --School Library Journal

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