“We all have stories, our lives unfolding along crooked lines, colliding in unexpected ways.”
The butterfly effect: how one tiny butterfly, flapping its tiny, thin, dust-covered, membranous wings can rustle up a hurricane on the other side of the world weeks later.
Just how do our actions affect those around us? Or even further, how do our actions ripple out and affect the world in ways bigger than we imagined?
A private plane with eleven passengers onboard takes flight. A media mogul owns the plane and along with his wife and two children, their guests include a financial manager in dire straits and his wife, an unsuccessful painter, and the crew.
Less than twenty minutes later, the plane nosedives into the ocean. There are only two survivors: the penniless painter Scott Burroughs and four-year-old J.J.—the sole survivor of the media mogul’s family.
“Everyone has their own path. The choices they’ve made. How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery. You get on an elevator with a dozen strangers. You ride a bus, wait in line for the bathroom. It happens every day. To try to predict the places we’ll go and the people we’ll meet would be pointless.”
Before the Fall is an intricate, multi-faceted novel. It is a thriller unraveling the threads to get to the bottom of an unfortunate tragedy—or was it a plot to assassinate someone aboard?
It’s a piece that’s very focused on the media-storm that occurs during high-profile cases and how news stories can alter public perception of an event or people involved in an event.
The book is also a very personal story of one man’s struggle not only with this tragedy and the search for the truth about what happened, but with life in general.
Before the crash, Scott doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. After the crash, people think he was sleeping with the media mogul’s wife, that he caused the crash, that even though he saved the kid and almost died himself, he was somehow a part of it, or at least knows more than he is letting on. He is a suspect, he is a hero, he is a villain.
The whole world wants a piece of him and all he wants now is to be left alone—and to take care of this kid, the kid who has no one, who he shares this bond with. No one else will ever understand them like they do each other.
There is this great divide between the internal and the external. What information should the world be privy to? What should be left unsaid? Do we, as the nosy general public, have the right to know anything and everything? Where do you draw the line between freedom of the press and privacy?
There is a character that is great to love to hate—Bill Cunningham—as the news anchorman who is digging his vicious little media hooks in where they really aren’t wanted, but where he knows he will get the best story (not to mention the highest ratings). Who cares about what is “news” and “truth” really? Aren’t we really here for salacious details? Outrageous claims?
When it comes down to the truth, the real truth, it’s honestly one of the most heartbreakingly real and gloriously visceral moments I’ve ever read on the page.
I could see this book happening—really see it. And that’s not an accident. Hawley is the producer and writer for the series Fargo, so he knows his way around the screen. I’d love to see a screen-adaptation of this book. It could be a real hit.
This book will make you think. It is also amazingly written. What more could you ask for?
“Life is a series of decisions and reactions. It is the things you do and the things that are done to you. And then it’s over.”
Get your copy of Before the Fall
Find out more about the author, Noah Hawley
Find out more about the publisher, Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)
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Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.