Freefall by Jessica Barry
Release Date: January 8, 2019
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
Freefall took a little while to suck me in. It starts with a depiction of a plane crash with one survivor, Ally, who is clearly on the run from someone. The chapters alternate between her point of view, and that of her mother, Maggie. Mother and daughter have not seen each other for several years, due to a falling out following the death of Ally’s father. We witness Maggie’s reaction to the news that her daughter has been presumed dead following the crash of a private plane owned by her fiancé, Ben, whom Maggie did not know existed.
Interspersed with Ally’s current narrative, we also get flashbacks into the past few years that her mother missed out on, during which she worked as a waitress at a seedy bar, and became involved in prostitution as a means to make ends meet. When she met Ben, the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, he took her under his wing and began to provide for her in entirety, allowing her to quit her job and spend her days roaming their huge new house and waiting for him to come home. Their relationship was pretty typical of a domestic thriller, with Ben critiquing Ally’s body, buying expensive dresses he knew were too small for her so she would feel pressured to lose weight, and holding his financial security over her head. Their relationship felt a little clichéd for this genre, but it wasn’t a huge focal point of the plot.
For me, the story really picked up when we begin to get insight into Ben’s company, and their highest selling drug, an antidepressant for postpartum depression. We learn that they seem to have been bribing the FDA, and altering the results of their trials to downplay the serious psychosis that is a major side effect for a significant percentage of users. This driving force behind the plot and Ally’s disappearance is what made this book so hard for me to put down. It was a plotline that I had not seen before in this type of novel, and I was constantly trying to guess who was involved and how much each character knew.
The introduction of Tony, an older man who befriends Maggie, was especially interesting, and the way his character tied into the entire investigation at the end had me completely shocked. The role of Ben’s company in the plane crash, and Ally’s motivation to get back home to her mother after so many years kept me glued to the plot.
Despite a general enjoyment of this novel once it got going, Ally’s backstory seemed forced and unnecessary to me, and her relationship with Ben seemed to rely a little too heavily on details that have been used over and over again in similar stories. Nonetheless, the two very differing perspectives and stories of Ally and her mother kept the read interesting until the end and I would absolutely recommend this book, especially with a batch of these thick and chewy blondies.