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REVIEW: The Year We Fell Down by Sarina Bowen

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years #1) by Sarina Bowen

Dear Ms. Bowen:

Angela James recommended I read this. I actually found it on my Scribd subscription (although not Kindle Unlimited for those who were wondering but it’s quite cheap at $2.99 and definitely worth the three bucks). It’s a terrific read, contains everything I love about New Adult and none of the things that irk me. I’ve spent the weekend recommending it and the thing that struck me most was that this wasn’t a story I felt like I had read before which, given how many books I read a year, is rare.

Corey Callahan planned to start Harkness College as a hockey player, just like her older brother before her. She’d been coached by her father and was a highly coveted high school recruit. A tragic accident places her in a wheelchair due to partially damaged spinal nerves.

There is no miracle recovery in this book. Yes, Corey can and does walk at times with the help of arm crutches but most of her time is spent in a wheelchair. Who she is physically at the beginning of the book is primarily who she is physically at the end of the book. But she never lets you feel sorry for her. As you lose yourself in the story, Corey becomes just a student who has a crush on her neighbor across the hall, is adjusting her dreams to something different, and learning to make new friends.

Adam Hartley lives across the way in McHerrin Hall, the “gimp ghetto”. The first floor of this dormitory has been made handicapped accessible with ramps, wide doorways and bigger rooms. Adam’s broke his leg in two places and is mending nearby. The two bond over their love of hockey. Adam is a would be hockey star frustrated by his own lack of healing but humbled by Corey’s no nonsense attitude about her own predicament. They end up spending a lot of time playing RealStix, a hockey video game, talking therapy, and learning about each other in ways that healthy Adam and Corey may never have.

There are little slices from Corey’s point of view that drive home how many accommodations she has to make in order to live in an abled society. When she’s in a dining hall, for example, she’s always staring at people’s asses. Sometimes the counters are too high for her. And in an old Ivy league school like Harkness, many of the buildings don’t have ramps or elevators.

When Corey goes to a party, she sits in a corner and has to be patient with people coming to her, rather than moving about freely. None of this is shared in a oh poor me fashion but rather good humor, self deprecation, and understandable frustration. It’s hard not to be charmed by Corey.

Adam is a roughneck from a poor part of town with a loving mother and an absentee father. (Don’t call him bastard. He hates that) He dates a high maintenance girl who leaves for a semester abroad. While she is away, they have an understanding which is why he is unperturbed that her facebook photos from Prague to Greece are filled with an Italian guy. It’s obvious to the reader that Adam likes Stacia, his rich girlfriend, for what she represents than who she is. But even that self awareness only lends to his attractiveness. He recognizes that it doesn’t say something good about himself and he wrestles with that particularly in the face of his growing feelings for Corey who is everything that Stacia is not.

I loved the college setting which was perfect for this book along with the hockey aspect. Neither of the main protagonists play hockey but it’s a huge part of their lives. The virginity scene (which was completely understandable) along with the dildo scene was one of the better, fun, sexy love scenes I’ve read in a while. I had a huge smile on my face in the last half of this book. B+

Best regards,


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. hapax
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 08:34:31

    I have said many nasty things about the NA genre in the past, but I bought this book (and the next book and the novella) purely on the plot description and the online buzz.

    Yay for more college students who have their emotional sh*t together (more or less) and are grappling with plausible real-life issues!

    I do hope that this represents a desperately-needed departure from the date-rape meet-cutes and angsty-wangsty woe-is-me characterization (not to mention the poorly disguised fanfic origins!) that have become staples of the subgenre.

  2. Divya
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 10:56:28

    I bought this the other day after seeing your rec on twitter. I really enjoyed it and I hope there are more NA novels like this. The second book in this series was also great.

  3. pooks
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 11:05:09

    I love angst when well-done, but I also love books like this one sounds to be. Bought it.

  4. Amanda
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 11:12:57

    @hapax: Your reply alone makes me want to get this book. I got burnt out quickly when I first tried the NA genre because of all the angst

  5. Christine
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 15:43:56

    It sounds wonderful! I too get tired of angst emotional filled heroes and heroines who have been abused emotionally or physically, or orphaned or any number of horrible circumstances that make them into damaged young adults. This one sounds like a delightful alternative.

  6. Kristi
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 15:50:06

    Was Angela where I heard about this book from!? I thought it was Facebook but it was probably her Twitter. I read it the same day because I was bored and LOVED IT!

    Promptly bought Bridgers book and that was great too.

  7. Susan
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 17:34:20

    There may be spoilers here.

    I bought and read this book (plus the other book and novella) after seeing Jane’s tweets and enjoyed all three. Each book tackled some tough issues and handled them fairly well.

    If I have a complaint, it would be that they’re all so. . .optimistic. For example, I think Corey’s acceptance of her injury and her subsequent progress happens very quickly–I mean, she had this catastrophic, life-altering injury in January, and by the fall she’s in an Ivy League school with the perfect roommate, with a great (potential) love interest, making good grades, etc. By the end of the book (and in the subsequent books) she continues to make great progress regarding her recuperation and mobility. Corey has her bad moments, but I think it would have been totally believable for her to have one tantrum or breakdown.

    As I said, I liked the books, and will buy/read the future ones. . . but I’ll look at them as kinda sweet fairy tales where most people are basically good and everything works out in the end.

  8. Zoe York
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 23:45:48

    I have all three of these books on my TBR list, and they need to move to the top. Great review.

    As a side note, it’s worth reminding people that with a handful of bestselling exceptions, the only books that can be read through Kindle Unlimited are books that are sold exclusively on Amazon. Authors with readers on iBooks, Nook, Kobo and Android devices can’t opt-in to the program without cutting off those readers.

  9. Kaetrin
    Aug 19, 2014 @ 23:54:41

    I bought it too. I’ll come back and read your review after I finish.

  10. SonomaLass
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 03:27:18

    Ann Aguirre’s NA books are also good; I have decided that I don’t hate this sub-genre when the protagonists are smart and funny. I will read this for sure.

  11. Michele Mills
    Aug 20, 2014 @ 11:25:09


  12. Kaetrin
    Aug 27, 2014 @ 23:00:01

    I finished it last night and loved it too.

  13. Deirdre Saoirse Moen
    Aug 29, 2014 @ 09:08:29

    Based on this review, I inhaled all her books. Loved this one, but I think I liked The Understatement of the Year even better.

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