Shattering Stigma: Falling from the Sky Book Review

She’s the woman he doesn’t remember. He’s the man she can’t forget.

Bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus used to have everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Nine months ago, after a bad crash in the half pipe, he woke up in the hospital, unable to move his legs. Now he’s landed there again, but gravity is not the culprit. With his family pressuring him to try a groundbreaking treatment, Hank self-medicates with too much tequila instead.
Doctor Callie Anders has the courage to restart a patient’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity, yet she’s afraid to risk her own. So she doesn’t confess to the clinic’s newest patient they they met just before the accident, an encounter that he doesn’t remember. Even as their friendship develops, she won’t admit that she regrets turning down his dinner invitation, or that her heart stutters every time those inked shoulders roll through the door of the therapy department.
With another Vermont winter coming again, Hank needs a hand out from under the avalanche of his disappointments. If only Callie were brave enough to take the job.

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The novel opens with Dr. Callie Anders joining her friends at a snowboarding event where she sees bad boy, Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus. Callie ends up being a witness to one of the most life-changing days of Hank’s life.

Bowen has written one of the more interesting characters in contemporary romance in Hank. While his accident alters the way people see him and how he sees himself, glimmers of his real personality still come through. His confidence, resilience, flirtatiousness, and tattoos (always a fan of the tattoos!) make him a fun character.

Callie is every woman. And I say this, even though she’s a doctor. Her trust issues from a bad relationship and her overwhelming medical school loans, make her easy to relate to.

But even more relatable than her school loans, were Callie’s moments of doubt.  She often squashes the possibility of Hank’s genuine interest in her. She questions whether he would have even noticed her if it weren’t for his condition.

This fear and insecurity is something I HATE to see in female characters, even though it couldn’t be more true. Bowen was right to include it. It’s a natural character element to write for Callie, because of her troublesome romantic past.

Her self-doubt made me shout, “No, Callie!” at multiple points. I even scribbled it in the margins. I wanted to shake some sense into her. While Callie may underestimate her stunning self, I, the reader, did not.

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I only discovered Sarina Bowen recently.  So, even though this book came out in January of 2015, I feel like it’s important to write about this particular book for two reasons…

  1. Sarina Bowen is not as widely known as she should be.
  2. This book shatters stigma.

The portrayals of Hank through Callie’s eyes, through his own eyes, and through the eyes of others (like his insensitive ex-girlfriend), remind me how common disability stigma is.

“…Callie took a healthy two steps backward again, and not because Hank always made her feel like blushing. This past week she had noticed that standing back from a wheelchair patient made everyone more comfortable, as they didn’t have to crane their neck upward to maintain eye contact.”

Falling from the Sky, Sarina Bowen

She conveys how disability stigma can limit social opportunities (there are bits about visiting a urologist!) and decrease self-esteem.

“A lot of my old friends look at me, and I can just see the wheels turning. They’re making the comparison. Doesn’t matter what we’re talking about–the Patriots, the weather. They’re thinking, that poor slob. Look at him now.”

Falling from the Sky, Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen always writes encouraging and unique stories, and Falling from the Sky is no different.  This is one of her best.

I also recommend: Shooting for the Stars and The Shameless Hour by Sarina Bowen

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