Free-Falling book coverIf Nicola Moriarty’s surname sounds a little familiar, that’s because her sisters Liane and Jaclyn are also authors. With Free-Falling, Nicola makes her own writing debut – and it is one that shows that talent sometimes really does just run in a family!

Free-Falling is a novel about loss, first and foremost. However, it’s also about moving on from great loss, and about the convoluted, complicated journey that may entail. Due to its focus, this novel can be very hard to read at times. The first two chapters are particularly harrowing, as the joint protagonists experience the first short period of time after Andy’s death. For anyone who has experienced deep loss, there will be an uncomfortable level of identification with Belinda’s and Evelyn’s emotions – and lack thereof.

It’s an interesting technique to show grief from two perspectives that really only interesect at the book’s opening and close. For Belinda, there is the loss of an expected future along with the loss of her fiancé. For Evelyn, there is the realisation of lost opportunities and the gradual understanding of the changes wrought in her after the years-earlier loss of her husband, Andy’s father.

The rest of Free-Falling‘s cast slowly gathers as the book progresses. While Andy’s identical twin, James, remains a little undefined due to his being seen through Belinda’s and Evelyn’s eyes, Bazza definitely emerges as a likeable and sympathetic character. If anything, he’s a little bit too good to be true!

The greatest strength of Free-Falling, however, is how real it feels. Perhaps things tie in a little too neatly at times, and it is true that there is a level of near-melodrama to a couple of the events and developments, but the characters are very realistic, as are the emotions that they experience. I particularly enjoyed the fact that Belinda and Andy’s relationship is portrayed as being flawed. The glimpses that flashbacks afford of him explain Belinda’s love for him, while not making their love out to be something unique and perfect – and therefore unbelievable.

Free-Falling is a very solid debut and one that should establish Moriarty as a rising Australian author. Although focussed upon two women, it should resonate with anyone who has experienced loss and the conclusion allows for enough hope that the reader is not overwhelmed by the sometimes-depressing content. I look forward to seeing what Nicola Moriarty produces next.

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)