Fear of FallingMelody is coming of age, coming out, and coming apart at the seams…

Seventeen-year-old Melody Warren is coming out―and coming apart at the seams. It seems that every girl she falls for is bad for her and to her. This is especially true of fellow classmate Ricky Malone, a girl who gives bad girls a bad name.

Ricky has luster and bluster and an insouciant insolence that appeals to Melody. Melody, in turn, is reserved, refined, and kind―of a challenge for Ricky. Not because Melody is hard to get, but because she is hard to forget.

Will Ricky see the error of her ways and set herself straight for the sake of their relationship? Or will Melody see the error of her gays and decide she deserves better?

Debut writer Shelbi Henny commendably balances the protagonists’ perspectives and page time, giving each character ample space to trace the relationship and face the music. There’s a certain poetry to the author’s prose, and her love of writing is clear.

What’s not clear, however, is this novel for publication. The style of Fear of Falling is redolent of a free writing exercise. One cannot experience this novel as a reader, only as a proofreader. Baffled by the abundance of errors in the manuscript (spelling, grammar, punctuation, tense changes, several speakers in a single paragraph), I did a little research and realized that the book is published by a vanity press.

Like her fictional wronged woman, Henny deserves better than to be shackled to a publisher that is both pathetic and apathetic. She deserves an unchained Melody.