Books are an amazing source of life lessons and love advice, so why don’t we learn from them? Esmée will recount to you what she has learned and what you should keep in mind while finding your way through the obstacle course that is life.

If you’re looking for a book with solid life advice and a tearjerker of a story, read Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. There are so many different aspects of this book that make for good advice, that it took me a while to decide what I wanted to write about. In Falling Into Place a popular girl called Liz Emerson drives off a cliff. It soon becomes apparent that she tried to commit suicide, although none of her friends really realize this. Throughout the story – while Liz is in a coma – we get flashbacks of what happened to Liz and her friends and find that they all have their own set of problems in life. This book is a great example of why you should imagine other people complexly, but no one will give you that advice better than John Green himself. It also takes a very powerful look at depression and suicide, but Zhang does a great job making clear that you need to ask for and accept help if you have those types of feelings. If I wanted to give you advice about that, I would just tell you to read this book. Falling Into Place also takes on teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and bullying. It’s a warning regarding all the terrible things that can happen to teenagers and how they should not deal with them. The book does a better job at giving you advice on all of these things, so what is there left for me to say?

18163646Luckily, there was Liam. He’s the somewhat secret admirer of Liz and while everyone knows that he likes her, Liam has never said so. He thinks he can’t, because Liz is popular, has a boyfriend who is a complete ass-hat and she can be kind of a bitch. So Liam continues to pine over her in silence. There is a moment in the book where Liz thinks that, if only Liam would tell her that he likes her and that she is a good person, she would have a reason to go on living. It’s completely unfair to put such an immense burden on someone’s shoulders – especially because Liz doesn’t say this out loud – but as always, there is a lesson in here that we should learn. Don’t stay silent, because when you finally speak up, it might be too late.

Most of the characters in Falling Into Place make this mistake. As a teenager it can be remarkably difficult to put your feelings into words and express them. This remains difficult throughout life, but when we get older we hopefully get more practice and it becomes easier. So speak up. There is almost never a reason not to.

This goes for telling people good things. If you like a girl, don’t be like Liam and wait with telling her until it might be too late. I know that not every girl is going to commit suicide because a boy doesn’t tell her she’s a person worthy of being alive. That is the worst case scenario, but it is easy to imagine other cases in which you waited too long and your window of opportunity has passed. Why would you wait with telling that you like her? We all love hearing that people like us! There’s no reason to wait for a special moment where everything is just perfect, so that you can make a big gesture. The telling is the big gesture! Of course, she can not like you back and that is going to suck. It will and there is no going around that. But only by telling her this do you know and knowing is half the battle!

This advice also works for telling people about the bad things. In the book one of the girls is forced into having an abortion and although she knows it is the right thing to do, she doesn’t tell anyone how bad she feels about it. It eats her up inside and she feels worse and worse. Often, just stating your feelings out loud will help to get the pressure off and you will feel somewhat better. It might not solve your problem immediately, but it is definitely the first step towards a solution. So the next time that popular girl is treating you like shit, call her out on it and let’s hope it doesn’t escalate into a cat fight or an unwanted abortion.

And finally, don’t just speak up about your own feelings. If you think someone is not doing well, or if you’re not sure they’re ok, simply ask. Don’t ignore the signs that someone might be doing poorly. If they look sad, they might need someone to talk to and why shouldn’t that be you? We all know that asking for help can be difficult, so facilitate this by offering it. Don’t be mean about it and definitely don’t tell anyone that they’re being a sourpuss. Just ask how you can help and then follow through. It really is that easy.

Now go read Falling Into Place for more useful life advice, or speak up in the comments!


Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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