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Tallulah Falls

Review

Tallulah Falls

Seventeen-year-old Tallulah Addy walks through the unknown Tennessee countryside in the dark of night. She's starving. Her boyfriend not only abandoned her as they headed from Oregon to Florida in order to help Tallulah's best friend Maeve, he also stole all of her money except 93 cents. And it's raining.

Tallulah finally approaches a truck stop right after she stumbles over a dog lying injured in the spooky darkness of a highway underpass. She wants food in the worst way but can't forget that dog, so she returns to it. A sympathetic stranger drives them to a nearby veterinarian. Tallulah is frustrated by this delay, though. She must get to Maeve, who is in trouble. No matter what, though, Tallulah will never go home to her critical family in Oregon. She can't admit to them that she's messed up yet again.

Tallulah clutches on to her hope that Maeve will come for her, after leaving a frantic message on Maeve's answering machine. Without money or transportation, she accepts an offer from the vet, Dr. Poteet, to work in his office as a kennel assistant. At least she'll have money when Maeve comes for her.

Immediately Tallulah learns of a minor miracle: the dog she rescued is still alive despite the vet's plans to put him down. She also discovers the grim realities of her new job. Cleaning animal cages is disgusting. Her co-worker despises her. The horse Tallulah must hold during a procedure is enormous and skittish. The vet is gruff and stern. In general, the work is impossible or boring. No matter how she performs at her job, she's told that she's not doing it right.

Time goes by, but no sign of Maeve. Even as she wonders, Tallulah finds herself drawn into the lives of those around her. She's attracted to lean, tan Kyle, a co-worker. She can't resist forming a friendship with the dog she's rescued or succumbing to the charms of being mothered by Ruth, the woman Tallulah stays with. Yet she can't forget her mission. Her best friend desperately needs her help and Tallulah can't get to her.

Tallulah feels alone and small, but discovers she is neither --- an empowering theme in a book that has everything: a heroine surviving an incredible journey (both external and within); characters so real they walk off the page; and a brisk yet thoughtful plot, brightened with flashes of humor. The Tennessee setting is vividly realized and is an essential story element. The author is brilliant at descriptions. A singer's voice rasps "as though sorrow were sandpaper" while too-short coveralls give Tallulah a Super Atomic Wedgie. In addition, the reader gets a fascinating glimpse at the inside workings of a vet's office.

This is an excellent read from first-time novelist Christine Fletcher that will leave her audience anxiously awaiting her next book.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2011

Tallulah Falls
by Christine Fletcher

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2006
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
  • ISBN-10: 1582346623
  • ISBN-13: 9781582346625