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  • Published: 2 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143770930
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.00

Catch Me When You Fall

Will Alex win the battle for life?

A moving novel about learning to find happiness in the face of uncertainty and discovering a love that transcends the boundary between life and death.

Seventeen-year-old Alex Byrd is about to have the worst day of her life, and the best. A routine blood test that will reveal her leukaemia has returned, but she also meets Jamie Orange.

Some people believe in love at first sight, and some don’t.
I believe in love in four days.
I believe in falling.
Both teenagers have big dreams, but also big obstacles to overcome.

‘Promise me you won’t try to die,’ I said. ‘Ever.’
‘Promise me you won’t either,’ he countered.
‘It’s not really something I can control.’

  • Published: 2 January 2018
  • ISBN: 9780143770930
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • RRP: $22.00

About the author

Eileen Merriman

Eileen Merriman’s first young adult novel, Pieces of You, was published in 2017, and was a finalist in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and a Storylines Notable Book. Since then, a stream of novels for adults and young adults have followed. She has received huge critical praise, with one reviewer saying: ‘Merriman is an instinctive storyteller with an innate sense of timing.’ In addition to being a regular finalist in the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, Merriman was a finalist in the 2021 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel and Moonlight Sonata was longlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2020. Editions of some of her young adult novels have been released in Germany, Turkey and the UK and three have been optioned for film or TV, including the Black Spiral Trilogy.

Her other awards include runner-up in the 2018 Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award and third in the same award for three consecutive years previously. She works as a consultant haematologist at North Shore Hospital.

Also by Eileen Merriman

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Praise for Catch Me When You Fall

My best pick for 2018 for young adults, the standout for me was Catch Me When You Fall . . . it's kind of heart-wrenching and really real and quirky and a great teen read for girls and boys.

James Russell, Radio NZ

This book, like Merriman's first, Pieces of You, is interested in life and death struggles, and the way that these struggles interact with the more everyday agonies and ecstasies of coming-of-age. . . Alex is engaging and likeable, a recognisable teen . . . The story is well-paced and absorbing . . . Her love story with Jamie is endearing . . . the story is effective in its depiction of the desperation inspired by love and fear of loss.

Angelina Sbroma, NZ Books

The beauty of it is that Merriman just seems to be able to cut straight to the intensity of a relationship, or a first relationship - the anguish, drama, the second guessing and the doubt, and the pure electricity of those first physical encounters . . . the characters are genuine and believable and wonderful dialogue and I must admit a few tears squeezed from my eyes while I was reading. It really is a great book . . . very similar to that John Green novel, The Fault in our Stars, very similar in subject matter and I would actually put it right up there. It is a fantastic book.

James Russell, Radio NZ

I learnt more about leukemia from this novel than I could have from a medical journal. This is the power of fiction. Personalising this condition has for the want of better words given leukemia life. Very well written and structured and will appeal to all those that like The Fault in our Stars by John Green and similar novels. Give yourself plenty of space when reading this novel, it is powerful.


This very readable novel is set in Christchurch post-earthquake which makes it instantly appealing to me. Merriman has created dynamic, believable characters who are faced with the harsh realities of medical issues largely outside their control. The joy and tenderness between Alex and Jamie is a real joy. There are some beautiful and horrific scenes where the full weight of the thinness of the space between life and death are explored. A book to be emotionally involved with this summer.


WHAT DID I LIKE 1. how darn cute this novel was, it really swept you up 2. how fast paced it was, it made it so much easier to read 3. how real it felt, it felt like this was really happening due to the fact that alot of terminology was included and it made you feel like you were there in the hospital with them 4. How decently the Bi polar disorder & the depression were dealt with. WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE 1. How instalovey it was. personally i dont like insta love, but I don’t hate it so, yeah. All in all this was a cute book that I’m really glad I read.

weavinglife.wordpress blog

When it comes to the medical details, the story pays impressive attention . . . the story doesn't only focus on Alex and her physical sickness but also on Jamie and his far subtler mental illness. His ever-creeping mania and attitude toward constant medication are well written and cleverly expressed.

Madeleine Fountain, NZ Doctor

heartwrenching tale

Diane McCarthy, Eastern Bay Life

Awards & recognition

New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Shortlisted  •  2018  •  NZ Awards for Children and Young Adults

Storylines Notable Book Award

Awarded  •  2019  •  Notable Book

Discover more

Short story club - 22 February

Read the story being discussed on Jesse Mulligan’s show on Radio New Zealand on 22 February 2018.