A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know All Fall Down, by Ally Carter, is the first book in a series about intrigue at embassies in the fictional country of Adria. Grace, 16, believes she witnessed her mother's murder at the hands of by a scarred man. Grace's grandfather, the U.S. ambassador who lives on Embassy Row, and other adults try to convince Grace that her mom died in a fire. Grace and her friends try to stop another murder after she overhears a potential threat. Along the way, they're almost caught breaking into a man's house, and she injures herself trying to prevent an attack on the president. She's drugged and wakes up bound in a room. A woman shoots a man. This may not be high literature, but tweens and teens may get hooked on the series.
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What's the story?
ALL FALL DOWN is the first book in Ally Carter's Embassy Row series. Protagonist Grace was hospitalized after her mother's death three years ago -- which she swears was no accident -- but is now coming back to the (fictional) country of Adria to live with her grandfather, the U.S. ambassador to Adria. Grace has never been one to think too much before acting, which has led to many broken bones throughout her childhood. So when she believes she's identified the scarred man who shot her mother, she's willing to go to great lengths to bring him down, even break into his apartment with the help of her crafty friends. But she's accused other men of murdering her mother -- can she trust her memory?
Is it any good?
Certainly all the elements are in place here for a successful series. You have an idyllic fictional country, glamorous events (at one point, Grace is given some dance lessons, dons a pink princess-cut gown, and is taken by limo to a ball at the palace to be at her grandfather's side), and some great secondary characters -- including Megan, a smart, loyal computer hacker and Alexei, a dreamy Russian boy who shares a special bond with Grace. And, of course, there's the unraveling of the mystery itself.
The conclusion is a bit all over the place, and readers likely will have more questions than when they started. But readers who liked Carter's Gallagher Girl books will like this story well enough and perhaps look forward to a more engaging next installment now that the stage has been set.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what's appealing about reading any series. What drove you to the Embassy Row series in particular?
Grace is certainly sympathetic, but is she likable? What qualities do you think make a good protagonist?
What do you think will happen in the next book? Do you plan to read it?
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