The Opposite of Falling Apart is a sweet story of friendship and romance. While the main character Brennan and Jonas were certainly attracted to each other, the story felt very much more about them finding comfort and belonging with each other than actually falling in love.
Brennan’s anxiety felt incredibly real — Good does a great job in making us feel just how terrifying it is for Brennan to do seemingly mundane tasks like going to the grocery. I especially love how Good takes us into Brennan’s head whenever she meets Jonas and feels incredibly awkward around him. Even though we as readers can tell that her words and actions aren’t as cringeworthy as she believes, we cringe along with her anyway, because her feelings are real.
Jonas was a bit tougher for me to warm up to, especially as a romantic hero. I found his flirting to be more arrogant than charming, and he was sometimes a jerk to his mom. That being said, I liked how real his PTSD felt whenever he had to get in a car — he lost one of his legs in a car accident, and there’s a scene near the beginning where he had to drive somewhere and almost had a panic attack.
Both teens’ self-consciousness over their respective conditions — Brennan with her anxiety and Jonas with his missing leg — also felt realistic. I love how sensitive Brennan and Jonas were to each other’s needs, and how they often understood what the other was going through even before the other teen was willing to open up about it. For example, Brennan was incredibly self-conscious over her anxiety, and worried that Jonas would judge her if he knew about it, when the truth was that Jonas could sense her worry about certain situations and so he’d do things to make her more comfortable. Brennan also helped Jonas practice walking with his prosthetic leg, and did so in a way that was encouraging but also not pressuring / judging. Both teens are vulnerable in their own ways, and I love how they made each other feel comfortable and accepted for who they are in their entirety, vulnerabilities and all.
Thank you to Raincoast Books for an advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.