Reviews for Fall from Grace
Booklist Reviews 2012 May #1
High-school senior Sawyer is a classic patsy in teen clothes. He is destined, via a combination of parental pressure and don't-care attitude, for a life as an insurance actuary after he is led through college by his domineering girlfriend and aided by a few pulled strings. But when he meets Grace, a girl with big dreams from the wrong side of town, his little life gets shaken upside down. Attractive in an unquantifiable way and unpredictable in an alluring way, Grace folds Sawyer into her capers, which start with stealing a treaty to add some excitement to a Model United Nations snooze fest and escalate into an elaborately planned museum heist. Benoit, who has been Edgar-nominated for his adult crime novels, first dipped into YA waters with the hard-hitting You (2010). He plays so lightly with mystery conventions, and buries them beneath a John Green-style exhilarating midnight romance, that a cynically ambiguous twist surprises but also feels completely organic. A satisfying piece of teen noir that hints at the electric thrill of pulling off the perfect crime. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Sawyer, a good-looking high school kid with everything he could possibly want, is tired of doing the expected and agrees to abet a girl named Grace in a theft she's planning. Benoit accomplishes something difficult--a well-paced novel about ennui, what Sawyer might have called his condition had he known the word. A satisfying examination of one high school boy's life of quiet desperation.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #3
Why would a good-looking high school kid with college in the bag, a beautiful girlfriend, a decent part-time job, solid grades, and his life planned out for him help a girl he barely knows commit a serious crime that could land him in jail? Sawyer's got a bad feeling about his life, a feeling he can't quite name; he's bored, and he senses that "life was a game…But someone else was working the controls." He's tired of doing the expected and following the safe path; he wants to be a player and take some risks. When he agrees to abet Grace Sherman, the girl he meets at a Model United Nations, in the theft she's planning, he says, "I've been an accessory for years. I'm upgrading to accomplice." But as this subtly woven tale unfolds, Sawyer realizes he is less an accomplice and more a pawn, and by story's end he falls from Grace back into his comfortable life, an outcome readers -- as well as Sawyer -- may find disappointing, if inevitable. In a story reminiscent of The Graduate, Benoit accomplishes something difficult -- a well-paced novel about ennui, what Sawyer might have called his condition had he known the word. A satisfying examination of one high school boy's life of quiet desperation. dean schneider Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 March #2
Lies, lust and betrayal just don't add up fast enough. On the outside, high schooler Sawyer seems to be gliding through life. He's focused; he's got good grades, a hot girlfriend and plans for college. On the inside, however, he feels trapped by his parents' expectations and the tight leash his girlfriend keeps around his neck. Enter Grace Sherman, a smooth-talking, resourceful, quick-witted girl from another high school whose presence infuses him with excitement and a sense of danger. She's cool but weird enough to be sexy. What's more, she's hell-bent on stealing a painting from the local library, and she needs Sawyer's help. Benoit's second teen effort is just as tightly crafted as his first (You, 2010). Characterizations are solidly constructed, and the plot moves methodically as Sawyer is pulled deeper into Grace's plan. Despite Benoit's ability to pull all of these elements together, the novel is missing a hook, which is what made his first so effortlessly terrifying. Art theft as a concept may not pique the interests of teen readers, especially those looking for a body count. The tension also builds slowly--more than half of the novel is given over to building up Sawyer's relationship with Grace. It's definitely an intriguing pairing, but less-patient readers will be flipping pages to get to the action. A slow-build, film-noir high-school drama. (Fiction. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #3
Benoit follows You (2010) with an equally absorbing, though less sadistic, tale of a high school senior whose passivity and conflict-avoidance threaten to trap him in other people's self-interested plans. By appearances, Sawyer leads an enviable life: he's a respectable student, is doted on by involved parents, dates a sexy and popular girlfriend, and has a car, job, and decent college prospects. Only after meeting Grace, a girl from the "other side of the proverbial tracks," whose opening line, "I need you to steal something for me," piques his curiosity, does he become aware of the smothering, coercive nature of his other key relationships. Grace's mysteriousness, cleverness, and unexpected propensity for fun compel Sawyer to participate in her increasingly wild plans to gain celebrity status, while her risk taking and courage inspire him to resist oppressive forces on the home front. Benoit's fast pacing, spot-on dialogue, and plot twists keep readers guessing about Grace ("Trust me.... You've got no idea what I'm thinking"), rooting for Sawyer, and pondering questions about freedom, choice, and integrity in human connections. Ages 13-up. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June
Gr 8 Up--This portrait of a floundering teen should find a rapt audience. Sawyer is an insular but likable high school senior fighting an urge to rebel against conformity at home and at school. His parents are so controlling that they select his extracurricular activities and classes. They've already picked his college (their alma mater), and his dad denies Sawyer's request to apply elsewhere. His parents could win a prize for most annoying people in the story, but Sawyer's girlfriend is a close second. Zoë is a jealous gossip who treats him so scornfully that Sawyer isn't even sure he can consider them lovers. His life is predictable and planned out until Grace, a girl from the poor side of town who has no college plans and is possibly homeless, shakes up his world. She's determined to get a little fun by breaking the rules. Grace and Sawyer bond over old movies, The Sting being a favorite. When she helps him cheat on an exam, he becomes intrigued by her smarts and spontaneity, two qualities that draw him into her grand scheme to steal a great work of art. Too bad she's almost as absorbed in herself as he is or she might have something to offer Sawyer beyond her own ambition and self-interest. Some readers might find the ending a little depressing and cynical, but the story is clever and original nonetheless.--Georgia Christgau, Middle College High School, Long Island City, NY [Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
VOYA Reviews 2012 February
Sawyer's parents have his future all mapped out. After he graduates high school, he will attend Wembly College (his parents' alma mater) along with his longtime girlfriend, Zoe. He will major in accounting and become an insurance actuary. It is a nice plan, but it is not what Sawyer wants; he is not sure what he wants, but becoming an insurance actuary is not it. So, when Grace approaches Sawyer asking for his help stealing a model UN treaty, Sawyer agrees, simply because it is something of which his parents and Zoe would not approve. Soon, Grace is asking for Sawyer's help with her plan to become rich and famous, a plan that involves staging a museum heist. Sawyer is a character with whom teens will identify. His lack of direction and chafing under his parents' demands will be familiar to many readers. He handles ethical dilemmas and relationships in a realistic teenage manner. The other characters, including Grace, Zoe, and Sawyer's parents, are less developed. Grace's desire to be rich and famous, and to have fun is the driving force for all her actions, including her relationship with Sawyer. While her deeper motivations are hinted at, she is a bit one-note. The novel's ending, while fitting with the story, is unexpected and will appeal to those teens who like their endings realistic, rather than happy.--Bethany Martin. 3Q 2P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.